Styrenics provide a competitive edge for a wide range of customers. Among the most important thermoplastics they provide valuable properties in a broad range of applications in various industries. General advantages compared to other polymeric materials are low density of styrenics (lightweight), high stiffness (long life applications), sufficient heat resistance (around 100°C), outstanding processability, and incomparable aesthetics for all kind of visible parts.
Besides working on future technologies and applications for new businesses, we continuously improve our products in the following technology fields (selection):
In many applications, resistance of surfaces towards different chemicals is highly required: In many household applications, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids from salad oil may attack the polymers, acids from fruits, moreover resistance against typical cleaning agents and dishwasher safety is required. In medical applications, polymers often have to withstand sterilization processes and harsh cleaning and disinfecting agents based on alcohols. Its Environmental Stress Cracking Resistance (ESCR) describes the ability of a polymer to withstand such influences. INEOS Styrolution permanently works on improving the ESCR properties of its products, even though the different product lines have its particular strength. Our ASA „Luran® S“ provides already improved ESCR properties vs. common ABS. In transparent applications, SAN (Luran®) and SMMA (NAS®)…
Additive manufacturing, sometimes also called 3D printing, is a generic term for a variety of different, special techniques which are best suitable for highly complex parts, prototypes and small series production (mass customization). Polymers are important materials for additive manufacturing. Especially in the FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) process, ABS and related polymers play an important role due to their excellent processability and properties. As a leading supplier of styrenic polymers, INEOS Styrolution continuously strives to offer optimized solutions for our customers, and we will continue assessing the value that styrenic polymers can bring to this evolving, innovative technology.
In general, like any other polymers also styrenics suffer from UV irradiation that can be added to the environmental stress factors. Slow degradation of the polymers are caused by interactions of the styrene with UV light, taking up its energy and causing damage to the polymer structure. If moreover butadiene is used as impact modifier, as in ABS polymers (Terluran®, Novodur®), free double-bonds in the polymeric chain make an exterior application without painting impossible. The alternative to ABS is ASA with an acrylic impact modifier, withstanding UV light for a long time. Especially for ASA and AMSAN (Luran® HH), that is also used unpainted in exterior automotive applications, INEOS Styrolution is using self-developed UV packages to boost the properties and enable the exterior use of unpainted parts.
Styrenics provide in general superior optics in terms of glossiness and color depth compared to many other common polymers. This is the reason why they are widely used in housings and other visible transparent and opaque parts. This unique strength has to be maintained also in polymer blends or if fillers are used. Other developments focus on the trend towards matt surfaces.
Polymer grades having a low viscosity (a „high flow“) in the melt provide opportunities in injection molding of very thin parts. Moreover, the energy to process such polymers is reduced due to less pressure and/or lower processing temperatures required. Providing just high flow materials in general is not a very innovative exercise, but keeping at the same time important properties like impact or heat resistance is the topic of research projects.
Styrenics are very easy to process as only moderate temperatures and pressures are necessary for thermoplastic deformation. Due to that fact, they belong to the most sustainable conventional thermoplasts on the market. However, main raw material of INEOS Styrolution products is crude oil and research programs started in order to provide a more sustainable feedstock for our polymers. Here, we focus on recycling material streams and building blocks from renewable resources like bio-based fatty acids or waste from the pulp and paper industry.
Especially the automotive industry is confronted with the challenge of providing safe and comfortable cars, but at the same time being fuel-efficient, regardless if electrically or conventional powered. This goal can only be targeted by lightweight construction and e.g. replacement of more heavy metallic structural parts by polymeric structures.
INEOS Styrolution just recently announced the new development of a thermoformable organosheet with outstanding structural and optical properties. On the other hand, we are working on foam injection molding technologies in order to safe weight in parts with mainly aesthetic function. As supplier of PS for extruded foams (XPS), e.g. for insulation panels in construction segment, we work in close collaboration with our customers on low-density foams.
Polymers can not only provide superior mechanical properties, but can also being equipped with specific functions like thermo or electro conductive properties or anti-bacterial properties.
Especially our Styrene-Butadiene-Copolymers (SBC) Styrolux® and Styroflex® are very versatile. They can be hard or soft and flexible like rubber, and at the same time super-elastic. Its polymerization process allows for a perfect control of the polymer molecules shape and the insertion of molecules that can provide secondary properties
As styrenics are often used unpainted in visible applications, they are generally prone to scratches, reducing the optics. ABS and ASA typically used in housings provide an inherent hardness and stiffness, however R&D is permanently working on improving the resistance against surface damages.