New Resins for Cut Sheet Thermoformers
Large part thermoforming
is growing by leaps and
bounds, affording thermoformers
an unparalleled opportunity
to expand their businesses
into new market segments.
Previously, the delicate balance
of impact, stiffness and formability
requirements had prevented
large part thermoforming
from being completely effective.
However, new advances in material
science are making these
concerns a thing of the past.
The Dow Chemical Company has developed a new performance
plastic specifically designed to meet the needs
of cut sheet thermoformers. The new polymer, INSPIRE™
EFP 500 Performance Polymer, overcomes key barriers in
existing thermoplastic olefin
Dow worked with thermoformers
to identify performance gaps
in current thermoforming options.
INSPIRE EFP 500 Performance
Polymer was engineered using
Dow’s patented technologies for
both polypropylene and elastomers.
It addresses concerns
about sag and warpage in large
thermoformed parts where
achieving the optimum balance
between stiffness and formability
is crucial. The polymer provides enhanced design flexibility,
enabling curvatures and three-dimensional shapes
expected from thermoformed parts. At the same time, it
contributes to excellent dent resistance and durability in
the finished product, providing a
combination of performance
characteristics that exceeds
existing TPO technology.
The polymer addresses two
additional gaps in current thermoforming
technology – melt
strength and regrind. Its high
melt strength is expressly formulated
for optimum performance
in thermoforming applications.
The new polymer also enables
thermoformers to use up to 40
percent regrind without significant
loss of properties. This is a substantial improvement
over current technology, where even small amounts of
regrind can result in decreased performance of the final
The polymer provides excellent low temperature toughness,
ductility, chemical resistance and fastening capabilities,
designed to meet the evolving needs of today’s thermoformers.
It works extremely well at high output rates, allowing for
increased processing speeds, and can be used on existing
sheet and forming equipment. For finishing, it can be used
by itself or with a complementary high gloss cap layer with
UV and scratch resistance.
INSPIRE EFP 500 Performance Polymer is suitable for
many durable goods, such as
sporting goods, automotive
parts, RV parts, canoes/kayaks,
all-terrain vehicles and tractors.
In the coming months, Dow
plans to introduce another TPO
compound specifically designed
for cut sheet thermoforming.
Developed using Dow’s material
science-based approach, the
new material has a flexural
modulus greater than 500,000
psi with excellent impact resistance.
It has shown dramatic
results in production speed and performance.
These new materials significantly broaden the application
opportunities available to large part thermoformers. By overcoming
traditional barriers, Dow and other resin producers
are opening the door for thermoformers to take advantage
of this high-potential process technology. With the aid of
polymer innovations that raise the bar for performance,
large part thermoforming is poised for significant growth.
Written by Ben Matuska, North American Market
Manager for Plastic Durable Goods, The Dow Chemical
Company, 400 W. Sam Houston Parkway, Houston, TX
77042, 713-978-2312, Fax: 713-978-6259, Web: www.dow.com