New resin technology drives diverse thermoplastic advances

Paul Boughton

The Cyclics Corporation has commissioned its first manufacturing plant located in Schwarzheide, Germany. The plant has an initial capacity of 2500t/y of CBT resin (Fig.1).

CBT resins melt to a water-like viscosity when heated and, with a catalyst, polymerise into the engineering thermoplastic polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
CBT resin is used in compounding, casting, injection molding, nanocomposites, rotational molding, and composites. Applications under development include wind power blades, rotationally moulded parts and fuel tanks, tooling blocks, marine composites, automotive parts and for use as a carrier resin for colour and filler concentrates in other plastics.
Cyclics' CBT resin processes between 170--240°C and is available in both one and wo-part systems.
The new plant employs 70 people and is co-located on the BASF Schwarzheide plant in the state of Brandenburg, Germany. It was built with the assistance of a E59.4m project financing package through a number of German governmental programmes and KfW IPEX-Bank.
More than 50percent of the initial plant capacity is under contract and numerous applications currently in development have led Cyclics to take steps to double the capacity to 5000 tonnes by early in 2006. This is the turning point where Cyclics transitions from development to a commercial enterprise said Ted Eveleth, chief executive officer of Cyclics Corporation. Everyone associated with Cyclics and the many that have watched us grow over the last five years are excited to see us commercialise the most exciting new resin technology in the plastics industry." By the fourth quarter of 2005Cyclics is expected to announce the location of its secondworld-scale plant for the production of CBT resin. This will have a capacity of 25--50000t/y.

Resin for kettles

For BSH Groupa leading manufacturer of consumer appliancesa major design concern is ensuring that each product continues to perform well and look great over an extended lifespan.
In the case of water kettlesthat lifespan is about 10 years and is characterised by repeated cycles of cold and heat as the kettle turns icy tap water into boiling liquid.
To meet the rigorous demands of this applicationBSH turned to GE's LEXAN EXL 1443T resinwhich proved its temperature resistance by successfully completing 12000 test cycles of heating and cooling. LEXAN EXL resin easily surpassed the closest competitive materialwhich lasted only through 7500 test cyclesby a wide margin (Fig.2).
As a result of the testsBSH chose LEXAN EXL resin for its sleek BOSCH TWK8SL1 electric water/tea kettle. Howeverthe resin offered BSH much more than resistance to wide temperature swings.
According to the companyit delivers a wide spectrum of opaque colours that can be custom-matched to specific requirements. Furtherits surface finish allows the creation of visually appealing designs that meet consumer demand for striking and beautiful appliances. The resin also meets today's European standards for food contactas well as US Food and Drug Administration.
"When we considered the requirements of the water kettle applicationwe knew that the material we chose would have to withstand more than 10000 uses over the life of the appliance and still look like new said Mark Heier, product manager, BSH Group.
LEXAN EXL resin builds on the strength of standard LEXAN resin -- one of the toughest plastics available -- with even greater impact performance and low-temperature ductility. The copolymer structure of LEXAN EXL resin combines the best of polycarbonate (PC) and siloxane properties, resulting in a significant upgrade to the PC and PC blend materials available in the market today.
The low-temperature ductility of the silicone provides outstanding impact performance. And because silicone is relatively unaffected by heat or humidity, these materials retain their properties for a longer time than standard polycarbonate resins.
Consumers today want more than functionality in their household appliances said Günther Grüner, application development specialist, GE Advanced Materials. They also expect great design. Companies like BSH depend on GE materials for both the durability and the superior aesthetics that make a product a hit with consumers. Design engineers can use our resin to create innovative products with greater reliabilityeven over years and years of constant use."

Friendlier train cladding

XantarCCE407an unfilled blend of polycarbonate (PC) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) from DSM Engineering Plastics is being used by Dutch Railway to replace train cladding made from polyester sheet.
The DSM material was chosen for its lower flammability and extremely low generation of toxic smoke when burning due to its use of bromine- and chlorine-free flame-retardant additives (Fig.3).
DSM says that Xantar C thermoplastic is more friendly to the environment and processor becauseunlike polyesterthe thermally stable blend can be economically and easily extruded into sheets and then vacuum-formed into claddingeven in combination with a co-extruded protective polyvinylidene fluoride top layer.