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Japan: Engineering Plastic New Polymer Offers Outstanding Features

Editor: Alexander Stark

The Japanese group Toray Industries has created a new polymer that retains the outstanding thermal resistance, rigidity, and strength of polyamide 6 (PA6) while delivering a bending fatigue limit that is 15-fold that of conventional polymers.

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Toray drew on proprietary Nanoalloy microstructure control technology to maximize the effectiveness of polyrotaxane.
Toray drew on proprietary Nanoalloy microstructure control technology to maximize the effectiveness of polyrotaxane.
(Source: Toray)

Tokyo/Japan — PA6 is an engineering plastic whose diverse uses include automobile engine compartments and appliance housings. PA6 resin incorporates a flexible elastomer to resist fatigue and optimize the lifespan. The tradeoff, however, is that this lowers PA6’s thermal resistance, rigidity, and strength. The challenge for many years has thus been to develop a new material that offers all of these desirable properties.

Toray focused on polyrotaxane, which has a sliding molecular bond, as a polymer whose structure moves in response to external forces. The company endeavored to balance the inherent attributes of PA6 and fatigue resistance by finely dispersing polyrotaxane in the resin. They drew on proprietary Nanoalloy microstructure control technology to maximize the effectiveness of polyrotaxane by dispersing it in the 10 nanometer crystals of PA6. The resulting flexible stress-dispersion mechanism led to the creation of the new polymer. Tests at the SPring-8 synchrotron radiation facility in Japan confirmed that the new polymer suppresses changes in the crystal structure of PA6 when subjected to external forces.

Prospective applications for such exceptional durability include automobiles, appliances, and sporting goods. The company looks to initiate full-fledged sample work in fiscal year 2021 while cultivating applications in diverse industrial materials fields.

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