2006-04-23 News Headlines
DSM Engineering Plastics thermoplastic elastomers gain ground
The softest available thermoplastic polyether elastomers, from DSM Engineering Plastics, are important new materials for overmoulders and designers.
Arnitel* EL250 thermoplastic polyether elastomer (TPE-E or copolyester ether elastomer, COPE), at 25 Shore D the softest available thermoplastic elastomer, has revealed itself as an important new material for applications requiring soft touch, pleasant hand feel or non-slip overmoulding. Arnitel EL250 uniquely combines both COPE performance with a softness that matches ultra-soft, but performance-challenged materials
“Designers, product developers and processors are continuously challenged to distinguish their products from the competition,” said Niels Hegge, newly Appointed Application Development Technical Support Manager for Arnitel, including the EL250 grade. “One new way companies can meet these challenges is to integrate such new features as soft touch into their appliance and other consumer goods designs.”
Until market release of Arnitel EL250, designers and overmoulders had to choose between grades of higher performance but less soft thermoplastic elastomers like COPE, or grades of lower performance but soft materials. Unfortunately, choosing harder COPE could lead to a less than optimum touch. Equally unfortunately, choosing softer materials could lead to removal by abrasion or by peel, delamination or failure of bonds to substrates. By combining key attributes, Arnitel EL250 offers unprecedented design freedom to engineers and designers.
Applications where Arnitel EL250 is finding use include automotive interiors, particularly in overmoulded interior trim panels and arm rests; kitchen, garden and hand tools; mobile phones; consumer electronics; and even pencil grips and personal care products.
Arnitel EL250 bonds well to such polar materials as polycarbonate (PC), PC/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC/ABS), ABS, polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and more. It thus offers excellent adhesion in 2K (two-component) overmoulding processes.
Arnitel EL250 exhibits good ultraviolet (UV) and heat resistance, excellent chemical resistance, and excellent creep resistance and resilience. It is compliant with FDA and EC regulations for food contact, and may be suitable for medical components. Its pure white base colour permits good color matching and aesthetics.
Processing advantages include a low melt viscosity for a best-in-class flow. This is crucial in overmoulding applications, where rapid, complete filling must often occur along extended flow paths and thin wall sections. Other processing positives include fast crystallisation for rapid cycle times, good mould release and a relatively low melting point
Arnitel EL250 can additionally be custom-compounded with other materials to combine mechanical or look-and-feel characteristics. This especially includes TPE-S or SEBS (styrene-ethylene-butylene-styrene based thermoplastic elastomer), which when combined with Arnitel EL250 results in an even softer touch than the neat EL250 grade. Arnitel EL250 can also be used as an adhesion enhancing agent for SEBS.
“With EL250, DSM has continued its close relationship with customers
in design and development support,” Tan Yam-Boon, Business Development
Manager of DSM Asia-Pacific, said. “A recent test generated a tremendous
amount of information about how people perceive soft-touch surfaces. As
expected, Shore hardness was critical, but additives, product geometry
and surface texture emerged as important as well.”
* Arnitel is a registered trademark of DSM Engineering Plastics.
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