Glass Bubbles Reduce Weight of TPO Parts
Product Announcement from 3M Advanced Materials Division
Resin compounder Noble Polymers of Grand Rapids, Michigan, a subsidiary of Cascade Engineering, has developed a low-density polyolefin resin formulation that reduces the weight of TPO plastic parts by up to twenty percent. This masterbatch bulk resin additive incorporates hollow glass bubbles from 3M Company to displace resin and reduce part density in injection molded, thermoformed and extruded thermoplastic parts.
"Mandated standards for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), and the drive to reduce industrial emissions and achieve more sustainable production methods have led to a growing demand for enhanced TPO production methods," said Tim Patterson, Noble Polymers Business Unit Manager. "Glass bubble additives in our masterbatch material displace hydrocarbon-based resin content and lighten parts to help cut transport fuel consumption."
Noble Polymers markets both off-the-shelf and custom formulated TPO resins for automotive, office furniture and building and construction applications. The company also provides material selection, integrated design analysis and empirical testing services.
"Use of density-reducing agents for filled TPO raw material is not a new concept," Patterson notes. "While various filler materials have been used to reduce TPO part density, glass bubbles have significant process and resin displacement advantages over alternate fillers. We've found that the addition of glass bubbles yields secondary benefits to TPO components as well, including improved part stiffness, greater dimensional stability and reduced shrinkage."
According to Patterson, traditional resin displacement mineral fillers such as cenospheres, asbestos particulate, chopped glass fiber and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) have considerably less volume per unit weight than glass bubbles. For example, 1kg of typical glass bubble material has a volume of 1666.7cc, while the equivalent weight of CaCO3 occupies (displaces) only 370.4cc. Thus its resin displacement potential per unit of weight is only a fraction of that of glass bubbles. Click here to read more.