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Polyscope Polymers to fill global SMA gap


October 8, 2009
by PLANT STAFF

A view of Polyscope Polymer’s plant in Galeen.

Photo: Polyscope

Although styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) resin producer Nova Chemicals is discontinuing production of this stiff and versatile thermoplastic widely used in automotive components and other items, a Dutch company intends to fill the gap in global supply.

Polyscope Polymers BV, a Galeen, Netherlands producer of maleic anhydride intermediates and styrene maleic anhydride copolymers, is ramping up production volumes to satisfy projected global demand for SMA. Polyscope is a major supplier of its XIRAN resins to the European market with US sales and marketing offices in the Detroit area.

SMA resins are used for instrument-panel (IP) retainers, windshield-demisters housings (cowl-vent grilles), air-duct and airbag surrounds, pillar-trim panels, centre consoles, knee bolsters, rear package shelves, rear spoiler trim, substrates for wood, decorative films, and plated trim, plus housings for instrument clusters and switches.

There are also plenty of non-automotive uses for SMA resins and maleic anhydride intermediates such as: microwavable food packaging; sizing chemistry for glass, paper, and natural fibres; and additive systems to increase thermal stability of polymers and increase miscibility of multi-polymer systems. The amorphous thermoplastics with high glass-transition temperatures (Tg) provide heat-deflection temperature ratings of 120 to 150 degrees C.

Characteristics include:
• high heat-aging performance
• low moisture absorption
• low shrinkage for precision moulding
• excellent repeatability and reproducibility
• low coefficient-of-linear-thermal expansion (to reduce thermal mismatches in multi-material systems)
• excellent long-term dimensional stability over a broad temperature range
• ease of vibration welding
• good noise/vibration/harshness

The company says these polar resins offer very good adhesion to glass reinforcements and excellent adhesion to a variety of paints, foams, and adhesives without pre-treatments. And a high thermal stability gives moulders a wider processing window. Materials also maintain high property retention after melt reprocessing or recycling. 
Polyscope says XIRAN grades can be used as a drop-in replacement for Nova’s former DYLARK grades with no changes to equipment or operating parameters during moulding, tooling, die cutting, or welding, which is not possible by switching to different resin families.

Polyscope, founded in 2006 by a group of international private investors and plastics-industry leaders, purchased a production plant built in 1992 and operated by DSM in Geleen that produced SMA as a heat-stabilizer and compatibilizer for its ABS resin. 

When DSM divested its styrenic product line, Polyscope acquired the plant. 
The US$58.1 million facility has a comprehensive, produces a complete range of chemical intermediates, polymers, and compounds with molecular weights ranging from 10,000 to 180,000 g/mol and with maleic anhydride content between 22% and 42 per cent.

Subsequent renovation of the site has led to even higher purity products and positioned the company to better document process and machinery to conform to international quality standards. 

Patrick Muezers, Polyscope’s managing director, said the company is expanding its product range to cover all commercial offerings of SMA copolymers worldwide, as well as increasing capacity for its maleic anhydride monomers widely used in the plastics industry as performance enhancers and stabilizers. “We are making sure that we are well positioned to back up the automotive industry—now and when economic growth returns.”