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Five new thermoplastic masterbatches with fibril conductive carbon nanotubes

Hyperion Catalysis International : 11 April, 2002  (New Product)
Hyperion Catalysis International, the world
Hyperion Catalysis International, the world’s only tonnage producer of carbon nanotubes, has added five resin families of commercial-quantity thermoplastic masterbatches containing Fibril multi-walled carbon nanotubes to the company’s product offering.

This high aspect ratio, curvilinear form of graphitic carbon confers electrical conductivity at lower loadings than other conductive additives when compounded with otherwise-insulating materials such as thermoplastics.

All masterbatches are supplied in pellet form, in either drum or gaylord quantities. Processors can vary the letdown ratio on the masterbatches to optimise the conductivity level of a moulded plastic part to meet its end-use application requirements.

The five new masterbatch compounds are as follows:
Polyetheretherketone (PEEK)
Polyetherimide (PEI)
Polyphenylene sulphide (PPS)
Polystyrene (PS)
Nylon (Polyamide (PA))12.

The new masterbatches extend the existing FIBRIL masterbatch resin availability of polycarbonate (PC), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), and nylon (PA) 6 and 6,6. Hyperion has more thermoplastic masterbatches under development, including polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). Target areas for the new masterbatches include electronics, clean-room, business-machine, aerospace, and automotive-underhood applications. The masterbatches are well suited for use in moulding compounds in which ductility, toughness, and/or resistance to sloughing (rub-off) must be combined with control of electrostatic charges.

“The new range of masterbatches significantly extends our market reach,” said Patrick Collins, marketing director at Hyperion. “They are a product of research conducted by our Plastics Technical Center staff working with customers to provide solutions to industry-specific challenges. They offer the same value-in-use as our polycarbonate-based products, which have become the industry ‘gold standard’ for conductive additives.”

“Compounds using Hyperion’s nanotube technology gave us the best performance we could find when sourcing conductive forms of polycarbonate for our slider-arm trays,” said Mr Shigeshi Fukuda, general manager, Electronic Materials and Devices Department, of Yuka Denshi, Yokaichi, Japan. “We were very pleased that the compounds with Fibril nanotubes were so resistant to sloughing, because it helps our customers maintain the clean-room environment so critical for hard drive manufacturing. These compounds also provide excellent static dissipation, which helps our customers safeguard their sensitive magnetic media.”

Fibril Carbon Nanotube Technology

Carbon nanotubes are 10-12 nm in diameter – more than 5,000-times thinner than a human hair – and 10-15 microns (m) long. Due to their unusually high aspect ratio (1:1,000+), these sub-microscopic tubes provide a highly effective, electrically conductive network when compounded with non-conductive materials, even at low loadings. In the automotive industry, thermoplastic compounds using Fibril nanotubes are capable of producing Class A body panels and trim parts. Since the resulting parts also have conductive properties, they can be electrostatically painted, eliminating primer steps and making it easier to wrap paint around corners and into deep design details. Low loading levels mean nanotubes do not compromise important mechanical properties (eg low-temperature ductility), so parts can be used in large exterior panels as well as trim applications.

Fibril nanotubes are also a key additive in nylon fuel lines where they prevent dangerous static discharges while preserving the low-temperature ductility of the nylon. In the electronics field, the smooth, highly homogeneous part surface means minimal sloughing (rub-off) of surface particles, which can be a damaging contaminant in today’s ultra-clean, electronic production environment.

Furthermore, Fibril nanotubes are nonreactive and chemically clean, with no sizing agent or sulphur that can damage delicate microelectronics. Hence, Fibril-filled compounds are used to mould silicon-wafer handling tools (e.g tweezers, wands, and rails for front opening unified pods (FOUPs)), as well as material transport trays and components for computer hard drives.

Finally, because Fibril nanotubes are so small and strong, they offer higher regrind stability than other conductive additives, making it easy to melt reprocess runners, sprues, and parts during production, as well as recycle moulded components at end-of-life. Current markets for Fibril nanotubes include automotive and electronics. Other uses in batteries, fuel cells, flat-panel displays, and catalyst supports are under development.
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