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Bayer Makrolon

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 14 December, 2001  (Company News)
Airplanes, streetcars, trucks and automobiles - all types of heavy traffic - will cross lanes marked by Smartstud low-profile light-emitting diode (LED) lane markers. That's why Smartstud manufacturer, Harding Traffic, needed a virtually indestructible material to protect the lane markers' internal electronic components.
Harding Traffic, located in Aukland, New Zealand, chose Makrolon« AL 3103 polycarbonate resin from Bayer to form the protective shell of the Smartstud system. The engineering resin provides the required impact resistance, as well as excellent optical characteristics, flexibility, and temperature and moisture resistance.

The protective shell was designed by Inztep, based in Wanganui, New Zealand. Inztep also manufactured all the tooling for the shell, which is injection molded, and supplied the shock-absorbing polyurethane backfill that encapsulates and protects the electronics.

In addition to supplying the Makrolon polycarbonate resin, Bayer provided technical assistance to Harding Traffic. 'We presented the Smartstud design to Bayer,' said Michael Hunt, Harding Traffic's Smartstud product development manager. 'Bayer proceeded to improve on our concept, using expert knowledge regarding the characteristics of Makrolon resin, as well as insight into molding techniques that would ensure no stress marks were evident in the final product.'

System maintenance is easy and inexpensive. Because the Makrolon resin shell is virtually indestructible, the only upkeep required is replacing burned-out units. Smartstud 'Inductively Coupled Illuminated Roadstuds' are powered by a wire in a sawcut groove running near the units that supplies power inductively, or with no physical contact. Therefore, replacement is fast, easy and inexpensive: remove the burned-out unit and glue another one in its place.

'At Bayer, we're excited to be at the forefront of a road lighting revolution,' said Justin Gleeson, technical manager, Bayer New Zealand. 'The Smartstud system uses less power than traditional road lights. And the LEDs have a life expectancy of over 100,000 hours versus 1,500 - 2,000 hours for conventional incandescent bulbs.'

Hunt said the Makrolon resin has displayed excellent performance in a growing number of Smartstud field installations and is lighting highways in Taiwan and Japan, crosswalks in Pasadena, Calif., runways at Vancouver International Airport, and trolley lanes in Melbourne, Australia. Most recently, in Florida, a stretch of route A1A that runs near sea turtle nesting grounds was outfitted with the Smartstud system because, unlike standard street lights, the low-profile LEDs would not draw turtles onto the busy road.

'The material is performing well and holding up in all live tests to date,' said Frank Oskam, Inztep general manager. 'Bayer was very helpful throughout the material selection process and lab testing.'
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