Superior mechanical and chemical-resistance properties are baked into the backbone of new PLA bioplastics from Nature Works that take direct aim at styrenics such as ABS in durable applications.
Stiffness is improved at least 30 percent compared to ABS, creating lightweighting opportunities while meeting corporate environmental goals. The new Ingeo formulations have a renewably sourced carbon content of approximately 90 percent.
The new durables formulations are expect to be priced in the mid to high dollar range ($1.50-$1.75/lb) on initial introduction, with specific prices dependant on volume, terms, and location. That would compare to a range of $1.15 to $1.25 for medium-impact grades of ABS. It also compares to a price of around $1/lb for basic Ingeo grades.
“But we find that something that often gets lost in these simple comparisons of raw material price/lb comparisons, is the properties of the material, and how those properties translate into finished part cost,” Frank Diodato at NatureWorks told The Molding Blog. “To this point for example, we do have significant stiffness advantage to offset that cost by reducing wall thicknesses, and molders will obviously be taking advantage of this as they optimize. Based on the market feedback we’re getting, our take is that with that price/properties set, along with a product that’s high biobased content and obviously absent styrenics and acrylonitrile, there’s a piece of the large ABS market that’s going to be quite interested in these.” Diodato leads NatureWorks Durables Business platform.
“Compared to ABS, these Ingeo formulations also offer significantly improved resistance to many common household chemicals – including things such as spray and wipe cleaning agents, oils, and acetone (a common nail polisher remover).”
Unlike legacy polymer blend approaches where PLA is alloyed or compounded with a petroleum-based polymer to achieve requisite properties, these new Ingeo formulations derive their functionality from the crystallization enabled by combining NatureWorks’ newly commercialized polymer chemistries.