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New Materials Advance Injection-Molding Possibilities

Posted by Heather Kinzel on Feb 21, 2012 9:00:00 AM
Heather Kinzel

Occasionally clients want to know about new materials that have specific properties which may be better-suited for different or expanded applications of the products they make—properties such as heat or chemical resistance, hardness, flexibility, friction coefficient, clarity, biocompatibility, etc.

Plastics manufacturers and suppliers continue to announce new grades/blends of resins, often with expanded capabilities that give product designers more freedom in developing next-generation products. Injection molders like Kaysun Corp. who stay in touch with manufacturers and distributors about material advances can keep clients up to date on new compounds that could benefit their product lines, or even boost market share.

For example, RTP Company, a custom-engineered thermoplastics provider, recently announced its line of polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic compounds has expanded to include impact-modified grades (injection and extrusion) suitable for more durable applications. These new materials are also more heat-resistant, making them competitive with traditional thermoplastics. Even better, PLA resins are derived from renewable resources—not petroleum. Manufacturing PLA biopolymers also uses less energy and produces less CO2 than petroleum-based thermoplastics, making them a sustainable alternative to thermoplastics such as polyesters and high-impact polystyrene.

Many manufacturers would love to get their hands on materials that have all the key performance characteristics they are looking for but weigh less. BASF just established a multi-material lightweight composites team to develop new materials for the automotive industry. Lighter weights can be achieved by incorporating multilayer fiber structures into the molded plastic. Called "resin transfer molding" (RTM), this process can produce large and complex composite components in a single operation. Future discoveries will likely have a wide range of applications across other manufacturing industries, wherever weight can be reduced and performance enhanced by replacing metal with lightweight yet strong composite materials.

Another Kaysun partner—DuPont—has recently developed a new grade of low-friction, low-wear acetal resin that extends the range of special control and premium-control grades. This type of high-performance polymer is typically used for medical devices. The new resin is the material for the dose dial sleeve in self-injection systems that deliver insulin or other drugs from a pre-filled glass cartridge. The patient uses the sleeve to set the required dose. Reducing the friction between the sleeve and the cartridge makes it easier to set the dose and inject the drug. The low-wear and low-friction properties of the new resin also make the delivery mechanism last longer.

Topics: Plastics / Resins

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