Polymers & Composites
Polymers and composites provide the plastics and structural materials that are widely used in industry for replacement of metals and weight reduction in finished parts and components. They are able to provide design flexibility through a wide range of molding/processing alternatives. Many different classes of thermosets and thermoplastics are commercially available to suit the property and performance profiles of industrial and consumer end products. Plastics compounded with a wide variety of reinforcements provide composites for more demanding applications. TCI actively monitors trends and developments in polymers and composites, and scouts new technologies in the following areas:
- Polymer blends and alloys that enable a broader range of properties than the individual components. These frequently involve graft modification technology and novel compatibilizers. Blends and alloys are based on major thermoplastics such as ABS, polyesters, nylons and polycarbonates.
- Photo- and biodegradable polymers for environmental friendliness. These are frequently based on natural raw materials that reduce dependence on petroleum.
- Nanocomposites, polymer systems that rely on nanoparticulates for reinforcement. Nanoparticles such as montmorillonite clays provide high strength and stiffness in combination with flame retardance and gas barrier properties while reducing weight compared with traditional composites.
- Composites based on fibrous reinforcements such as fiberglass and carbon fiber significantly increase tensile strength and stiffness to meet demanding structural applications.
- Technology for incorporating reinforcements and processing of the composites is critical for low cost and reproducible manufacturing of finished parts and components.
- Composite technology that combines the processing features of thermoset resins with the physical properties of thermoplastics.
- Specialized grades of plastics that are electrically-conductive for electronic applications, and thermally-conductive for high-heat environments. These grades overcome the general insulative characteristic of plastics.