While renewably sourced plastics are not the primary focal point at DSM Engineering Plastics, they are experiencing solid growth rates and above-average investment in corporate R&D, said President Roeland Polet in an interview at K2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Trademarked EcoPaXX, the specialty long-chain polyamide grade (46) is about 70 percent based on castor oil beans. The grade is designed to provide excellent chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, combined with a very high melting point (highest of all bioplastics) and high crystallization rate (comparable to PA66 and PA46).
“EcoPaXX is experiencing growing rates of ten to fifteen times per year, but from a very small base,” said Polet. “Right now we are really starting to get traction.”
One interesting new application on display at DSM’s stand is water management, specifically water-mixing faucet parts. “There is growing interest in replacing brass because it has some lead content,” said Polet. The grade used in the valve is 50 percent glass reinforced. Components for ski boots are also on display.
The material offers performance advantages, but it also comes at a higher price.
“Most successes we have come when a customer is looking fir a sustainability solution,” he said. Electronics is a particularly promising market because many big players have appointed chief sustainability officers.
DSM is looking for growth opportunities, but carefully. New sources of renewable materials are being explored.
“We could come up with 17 eco products tomorrow, but you still have to have the right cost/performance ratio.”