Particle Foam Based on Polyethersulfone
Prototypes with Unique Combination of Properties
After two years of research, BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany, is presenting prototypes of the first particle foam based on polyethersulfone (PESU). The foam is characterized by its combination of properties: high-temperature resistance, inherent flame retardancy - and its extreme light weight coupled with great stiffness and strength, according to BASF. It is therefore particularly well suited for complex-shaped components in cars, airplanes and trains, which require good mechanical properties together with the ability to withstand high operating temperatures or to meet stringent flame-retardant requirements.
Ultrason E, the PESU of BASF, is an amorphous thermoplastic with a very good temperature profile: It has a high glass transition temperature of 225°C and remains dimensionally stable up to this temperature. Its mechanical and dielectric properties should show only a slightly dependence on the temperature. Foams made of this PESU are approved for use in aircraft. The material, with its high limiting oxygen index of 38 (according to ASTM D 2863), distinguishes itself because it meets the requirements for commercial aircraft with regard to combustibility, low heat release and low smoke density (“fire, smoke, toxicity”) even without the addition of flame retardants, which means it is intrinsically flame retardant.
Fewer Processing Steps, Greater Freedom in Design
Despite its low density the PESU particle foam thus enables stiff and strong components with good excellent dimensional stability at high temperatures. Expanded molded parts made from one single material offer several advantages compared to traditional honeycomb structures coated with phenolic resins: They offer considerable flexibility in terms of densities and shapes and therefore greater freedom in design. There are fewer processing steps and therefore lower system costs. Additional functional parts such as inserts and screw threads can be integrated in the complex geometries. And, according to BASF, recycling of the parts can easily be carried out as the polymer is of one single origin.
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