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9/1/2009 | 1 MINUTE READ

Natural fibers, thermoplastic resin/fiber, long fibers target new applications

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SABIC Innovative Plastics has introduced an expanded line of products based on its Ultem PEI thermoplastic, as well as a line of natural fibers designed for composites applications. 


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SABIC Innovative Plastics (Pittsfield, Mass.) used its NPE 2009 exhibit this summer to launch several new composites-related materials. Heading the list was a recrafted Ultem polyetherimide (PEI) resin technology, targeted to high-performance products and structures. Available in traditional resin form, or as a foam, fiber or honeycomb core, it features good flame/smoke/toxicity (FST) performance, low moisture uptake, thermoformability and high strength retention. Targeted applications include automotive and aircraft interiors: TenCate Advanced Composites (Nijverdal, The Netherlands) has developed CETEX composite skins, based on Ultem composites and woven glass (or carbon) fiber (see photo). For TenCate’s CETEX System 3 composites, the CETEX skins are attached to the tubular honeycomb core — provided by Tubus Bauer (Bad Sackingen, Germany) — and can be thermoformed and cut into shapes for structural aircraft exterior and interior components.

Also from SABIC are two products in a new line of LNP Thermocomp specialty compounds reinforced with wood flour and curauá fiber (extracted from the leaves of a member of the bromeliad plant family in South America). LNP Thermocomp PX07444 is a polyamide (PA)-6 nylon reinforced with up to 20 percent curauá fiber. This new LNP Thermocomp grade — while not identical in properties to glass-reinforced PA-6 — is a potential substitute for glass-filled nylon in some automotive interior components. It provides a strength-to-weight advantage with good surface aesthetics, and reportedly is not as abrasive as glass or mineral reinforcement. LNP Thermocomp MX07442, a 30 percent wood flour/polypropylene (PP) compound, is aimed at replacing wood because, in addition to having a similar appearance, it is more resistant to fungi and has better dimensional stability than natural wood. Compared to unfilled PP or 30 percent mineral-reinforced PP, its lower specific gravity gives it greater flexural strength with no loss of impact strength. It can be extruded and injection molded.

SABIC also introduced the RheMax product line, purchased from RheTech Inc. (Whitmore Lake, Mich.) earlier this year. Under the terms of agreement, RheTech is the toll manufacturer of SABIC’s STAMAX LGFPP (long glass fiber-filled polypropylene) compounds, which were launched in North America in September 2008. In pellet form, with 12-mm (0.47-inch) long glass fibers, they’re designed for injection of semistructural automotive and heavy truck instrument panels, door modules and front-end modules.