NPE ’12: New product can reduce polypropylene’s weight and density

03 April 2012 04:17  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS)--US-based chemical company 3M has introduced a new product to the market, a hollow glass bubble additive that could halve the density of polypropylene (PP) in injection molding and reduce its weight, said a company executive on Monday.

Although not a drop-in product, the new 3M Glass Bubbles iM16K can reduce weight by at least 15% in PP-filled systems, and by 18% or more in nylon glass fibre systems.

“It means more money in the customer’s pocket…The Glass Bubbles can be used in anything with PP,” said Lou Lundberg, senior manager, global marketing and business at 3M.

Lundberg was speaking of the sidelines of the National Plastics Exposition (NPE) in Orlando, where the Glass Bubbles were unveiled on Monday.

“Incorporating Glass Bubbles into processes improves dimensional stability, which means to less shrinkage and warpage - reducing reject parts and reprocessing,” said Lundberg.

Additionally, he noted, the product reduces cooling time - because they are hollow, there is less finished product to cool - and has a zero carbon footprint, something more appealing to customers seeking sustainable or environmentally friendly products.

The Glass Bubbles’ applications include automotive and aerospace, including thermoplastics and thermoset composites, underbody coatings, structural foams and auto body filler, as well as in oilfield applications, like drilling fluids and cement slurries.

3M has been making hollow glass bubbles since the 1960s, initially for applications like road signage and furniture manufacturing, and has continually been tinkering with its uses.

The four-day NPE is sponsored by the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and runs through Thursday.


By: Ivan Lerner
+1 713 525 2653



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