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Polymer Additives

With the focus on productivity, processing aids come to the fore

SpecialChem / Dec 22, 2000

As raw materials prices go up, more attention is being paid to additives that make materials go further in processing - and there is every likelihood that this trend will continue. Processing aids, based on a variety of chemicals, are increasingly used to make extrusions run thinner and faster, and to shorten moulding cycles. The compounds involved are PVCs and polyolefins, but nylons and other engineering plastics are beginning to benefit also. In effect, the focus is switching from the cost of the basic material to the cost of the processed product, explains John Murphy. From the original methyl butadiene styrene (MBS) processing aids used for PVC, and silicone oils used to aid processing of other plastics, new technology has considerably expanded the field. Additives with specific functions (such as flame retardants, antistats and conductives) are now also expected to make a contribution to facilitating processability. Traditional fillers, such as calcium carbonates, are surface-modified to give them additional value and, at the other end of the spectrum, highly sophisticated polymers such as fluoroplastics are being modified to play key roles as processing aids.

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