BASF's tough and transparent styrene-butadiene copolymer can now be used as a cost-effective plastic for blow moulding, according to recent internal research.
The chemical company's Styrolux 3G46 plastic, which was first launched in 2006, has been primarily used in extrusion and injection moulding.
However, because the product is particularly light, BASF investigated whether this weight advantage could translate into benefits for blow-moulded products.
Blow moulding is used for the production of hollow objects - usually bottles, jars and other containers.
The plastic had to undergo tests using various blow moulding techniques, including stretching and extrusion, as well with different temperatures and pressures.
It was found to be shatter resistant, and passed all safety tests for the manufacture of products, such as sports drink bottles, dispensers and storage containers.
Cost saving benefits
Styrolux 3G46 is 30 per cent lighter than other established transparent materials used for this process, such as PVC and polyethylene terephthalate.
This means it is easier to process by both extrusion blow moulding and injection blow moulding. This directly translates into cost savings because the processing temperatures can be lower and the cycle times shorter than conventional materials, according to BASF.
Additionally, the material does not have to be pre-dried, again cutting costs and providing quicker processing.
Sabine Philipp, BASF spokesperson, told FoodProductionDaily.com: "Moreover, it has an interesting combination of mechanical and optical properties.
"Its high impact resistance and breaking strength, along with high transparency and exceptional gloss, make the plastic a very economical alternative to create attractive bottles with integrated handles. The material can easily be dyed, printed, glued and welded."
Cost-effectiveness is a growing priority for manufacturers as raw material and energy prices continue to increase across the board, with oil, for example, recently reaching a record price of $120 a barrel.
Rising polymer costs are placing great pressures on food packaging manufacturers, forcing many to push up their prices to maintain margins.
Croda for instance announced last month that higher natural feedstock costs had forced it to implement price increases across its Cromamide range of polymer additives for the plastics packaging market.
Styrolux is BASF's trademark for a brand of clear styrene-butadiene copolymers (SBC) used in injection moulding and extrusion thermoplastic packaging that offer clarity, toughness and low density.
Products from the Styrolux range are used for medical applications, food service products such as thermoformed clear drinking cups and plates, shrink labels, flexible packaging, toys and household appliances.
Styrolux 3G46, which comes in pellet form, was developed specifically for sheet and film extrusion and for thermoformed articles. It is aimed at improving performance in blends with general-purpose polystyrene, providing parts with an excellent balance of transparency and toughness.