Can new additive technology improve the adherence, performance and quality of polymers, while making plastics processing easier and more cost-effective?
The answer is yes, as recent tests show how UK-developed additive technology can be easily incorporated into a polymer formulation, with beneficial results. The Polarfin block copolymer additive range used with existing polymer conversion processes with little, if any, changes to production equipment.
It works by modifying the surface chemistry of polyolefin-based materials to enable interfacial bonding or other desirable surface properties such as anti-fog performance.
When added in small percentages to polyolefin materials such as polyethylene or polypropylene, Polarfin’s molecules migrate to the surface, making these materials more attractive to other polar materials such as metals, ceramics and other plastics, including those containing acrylic, styrene and vinyl acetate-based polymers.
Polyolefins’ value-add often is limited by issues such as compatibility, adhesion and quality. Because the additive becomes an actual part of the material, the need for surface treatment to bind together two dissimilar polymers or a polymer and another material is eliminated, thus reducing costs.
For example, with the addition of Polarfin, untreated LDPE and Mylar (PET) films can adhere to each other and form a stronger bond than is achievable using conventional methods. Polarfin also makes plastics easier to print on in packaging applications that use direct printing.
Furthermore, the additives enable permanent interlayer surface adhesion, which was not possible previously without costly, energy-intensive “functionalising” methods such as flame torching, chemical etching, corona discharge and plasma treatments.
Many of the Polarfin additive grades currently being commercialised bring the added benefit of reducing processing costs in addition to the main advantage of providing enhanced surface properties in end-use applications.
New additive solutions can accelerate development in specifics markets such as film packaging and new composite materials, adding innovation in downstream polymer processing methods, such as multi-layer extrusion and film-blowing.
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