Acceptance rates are slow for a new engineering plastic called Durabio developed by Mazda and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. (MCC) that targets polycarbonate and acrylic. The big problem is its cost—about $6 per pound.
Mazda continues to add new applications for the plastic, including mirror housings for the new model of the Roadster RF. The new grade has been used for interior and exterior design parts of Mazda’s CX-9, Axela, and Demio since 2015, when it was first adopted for the newly launched Roadstar.
The only other announced user is Sharp, which is using Durabio for the front panel of the Aquos Crystal 2 smartphone.
MCC began production of Durabio in 2012 with an annual production capacity of 5,000 metric tons. Capacity was boosted to 16,000 metric tons in 2015. Global capacity of polycarbonate in comparison is above 4 million metric tons.
The pitch for Durabio is both performance and environmental.
Durabio is said to nearly eliminate distortion in light transmission, making it easy to see a touch panel surface. Its scratch resistance is also said to be superior to polycarbonate. The mirror housings, for example, require no coating.
The main raw materials used to make the plastic are based on sorbitol, a starch derivative. Durabio contains no BPA.