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News

GE Plastics reinforces support for innovative product design

GE Advanced Materials : 16 September, 2003  (Technical Article)
In support of its services to the design community, GE Plastics has worked with Designafairs GmbH, one of Europe
In support of its services to the design community, GE Plastics worked with Designafairs GmbH, one of Europe’s foremost design consultancies, to have a permanent state-of-the-art presentation at Designafairs’ new Colour and Materials Laboratory, which opened in Munich on 17 September 2003. This centre of expertise brings together the leading technologies in materials, colours and effects to serve industrial designers in driving real design innovation in new and existing applications.

This latest move complements GE Plastics’ well-established key designer-support technologies and services that include its globally networked Customer Innovation Centres. Through these centres, industrial designers, design engineers and marketing professionals can access the latest materials and techniques to optimise and differentiate their application concepts, and can bring them to market with speed.

Further support is provided by GE Plastics’ ColorXpress colour matching and management services, which enable rapid and precise colour selection and ensure colour consistency throughout manufacturing processes. The full range of design tools and associated aids can be accessed via www.geaesthetics.com.

At the core of these designer-aids is Visualfx special colour and effect resins. In 2000, GE Plastics introduced the first Visualfx resin portfolio, designed to provide companies from all industries with a competitive marketing edge through a revolutionary palette of finer texturing, shades and special effects. All of GE Plastics’ Visualfx resins are formulated with the colour and effect inherent in the pellet to create colourful and exceptionally rich looking parts out of the mould without the need of what can often be costly secondary paint and coating operations. Additionally, several of these Visualfx resins are also available in film for use in in-mould decoration applications to achieve unique multi-layer effects and flow line free appearance. Whether sparkling, metallic glow, translucent or fluorescent, Visualfx resins can give products almost a completely new look.

As the technical differences between mass-produced standard products tend to disappear and aesthetics increasingly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions, there is a high demand for visually attractive materials that will extend the possibilities of product differentiation, capture new customers and conquer niche markets. Visualfx resin has been developed to meet this need. Through its Lexan, Cycoloy, Geloy, Xylex, Xenoy and Cycolac thermoplastic resins, GE Plastics Visualfx resin portfolio currently offers 26 effects with over 33,000 dynamic colour variants, loadings and derivatives.

Confirming both demand and material performance, in each of the past three years, sales of Visualfx resins increased by 20%. Volker Neuber, managing director, GE Plastics Germany, explains this market growth, “High-quality, innovative plastics from our Visualfx resin portfolio are rated very highly by our customers across all industries. Visualfx resins not only inspire new, bold developments but also satisfies customers’ key concerns such as recyclability, environment-friendly processing and cost efficiency, by eliminating the need for painting or coating operations.”

This is also the reason behind GE Plastics’ development of chlorine and bromine free, flame retardant, environmental friendly engineering thermoplastics. These developments effectively anticipate upcoming legislation, stemming from the European Union directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), for example. New materials such as Lexan 925 and Lexan EXL 9330 polycarbonate, Geloy DHRA 222 alloy, Cycoloy CH6410 alloy, as well as Thermocomp PCAF04FRHH, already meet the projected new demands that will be made on materials particularly in respect of applications in the appliances, business machines (computers, printers, scanners, faxes) and telecommunications sectors.

Jens Götzelmann, responsible for Quality Management in the production of safety glasses at German OEM, Uvex Arbeitsschutz GmbH, sees a clear trend towards fashion and plastic effects, 'Protection continues to be the major factor in accident prevention. But, as can be seen with our “I-vo safety glasses”, our customers attach an increasing importance to convenience and wearing acceptance through attractive colours and design elements.
As special effects seem to be very popular, we have started testing products with pellets that glow in the dark!'

For Dipl.-Phys. Haiko Glienicke, responsible for day/night design and fibre-optics technology in product development at Preh-Werke GmbH & Co., Germany, engineering thermoplastics from GE Plastics ideally complement the high demands on the company’s products for the automotive industry, 'User interfaces for our navigation and mobile infotainment systems feature complex functionality, high product quality and superior design. Typical product characteristics include ease-of-use, excellent ‘look’ and special surface finish based on high-quality materials, with an increasing focus on design aspects.'

“GE Plastics has made significant investments in materials research and tools for design processes,” says Golnar Motahari-Pour, president of GE Plastics Europe, to illustrate an important part of the corporate strategy. “In our Customer Innovation and Design Centres in Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, Selkirk, USA and Shanghai, China, we offer concrete, constructive support to our customers. Through these centres, industrial designers can formulate their requirements, study new design methods, create new colours or customise special effects from our Visualfx resin offering.”
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