Eastman Chemical Co. announced development of an engineering bioplastic breakthrough in a press conference May 15 at Chinaplas.
Eastman Trēva is an interesting material, but the words breakthrough and bioplastic may be more appropriately placed within quotation marks. Its composition is about half cellulose and about half acetic acid and acetic anhydride, which are made from fossil fuels.
Eastman’s Tenite cellulosic plastics, made entirely from wood, were introduced in 1929, and are used in consumer product applications from radios and telephones, to toothbrushes and toys. They are said to have toughness, hardness, strength, surface gloss, clarity, chemical resistance, and “warmth to the touch”.
“Eastman leveraged nearly 100 years of cellulosic expertise in the design and testing of Trēva to meet the improved sustainability profile and performance needs of brands, fabricators, molders, and other companies across the value chain,” said Burt Capel, vice president and general manager of Eastman’s Specialty Plastics business unit.
It targets polycarbonate, PC/ABS, ABS, and acrylic and is described as competitively priced.
Potential applications include:
- Eyeglass frames, wearable electronics, headphones, and many other personal devices that come in direct contact with the skin;
- Electronic display applications, such as lenses and covers, that consumers need to see through;
- Electronics, housings, intricate cosmetics cases, and other products with high design and complex specifications; and
- Automotive interior components requiring chemical resistance and aesthetics.
“The materials have good clarity, but not the high clarity that you would see with Tritan, PC or acrylic,” says Kevin Duffy, manager of business development, advanced materials – Specialty Plastics at Eastman Chemical. “The transparency for the new Trēva grades is in the low-to-mid 80%’s. Depending on thickness and optical requirements, this would be OK for many applications.” Some grades of PC are optically transparent.
Trēva’s HDT @ 0.455 Mpa is around 115º C. PC’s HDT at 0.45 MPa: 140° C.
The new Eastman partially sustainable alloy may have an edge in flow, chemical resistance and haptics. It is also BPA free, although it’s not clear if that is significant for non food contact applications.
It looks like an excellent candidate for niche applications such as eyeglass frames, depending on exact pricing.