SABIC-IP unveils new natural fiber reinforced compounds for sustainable products

13-Jul-09
In a bid to drive the use of eco-friendly plastics and composites, SABIC Innovative Plastics recently unveiled two products in a new line of LNP* Thermocomp* specialty compounds that use curauá fiber and wood flour natural reinforcements. One of SABIC Innovative Plastics' new materials is LNP Thermocomp PX07444 specialty compound, a polyamide (PA)-6 nylon that is reinforced with up to 20% curauá fiber. The curauá plant is a member of the bromeliad family and is cultivated in South America. The fibers extracted from its leaves have high mechanical strength. This new LNP Thermocomp grade - while not identical in properties to glass-reinforced PA-6 - can potentially be substituted for the glass-filled nylon in specific applications such as automotive interior components. It provides a strength-to-weight advantage with good surface aesthetics. Also, natural fibers such as curauá are not as abrasive as glass or mineral reinforcement, thus reducing wear and tear on molding equipment. Another new grade, LNP Thermocomp MX07442 specialty compound, is polypropylene (PP) reinforced with 30% wood flour. It 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% mineral-reinforced PP, this lower specific gravity compound has higher flexural strength with retained impact strength, thus providing a strength-to-weight advantage. It can be extruded and injection molded, and provides a colorable surface with the natural grain of wood. The company says compared to traditional reinforcements such as glass fiber, natural fibers offer several environmental benefits. They are renewable, biodegradable and require less energy to produce. Further, they are lighter in weight than glass and other traditional fibers, helping to reduce energy consumption in shipping. Further, the customers also get greater options to create next-generation sustainable solutions to differentiate their products, grow current markets, expand into new sustainable market and application areas, and increase overall productivity and profitability.
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