XIRAN® SMA Resins from Polyscope Polymers Gain Global OEM Approvals to Replace Dylark SMA


Polyscope's Resins Qualify as Replacement on 50+ Programs in Five Months, No OEM, Supplier Plants Idled or Shut Down During Switchover

GELEEN, THE NETHERLANDS and DETROIT - Polyscope Polymers today announced its success, in just five months' time (including summer shutdown), in obtaining automaker approvals on programs on three continents for its XIRAN® styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) resins to be used as direct replacements for Dylark® SMA, previously produced by Nova Chemicals. XIRAN SMA is now in production on vehicles sold by Ford Motor Co., Audi AG, Volkswagen AG, Land Rover, and Ferrari S.p.A. in Europe; by Audi and Volkswagen AG in the Pacific / Asia / China region; and on vehicles sold in the Americas by Ford, Chrysler Group LLC, General Motors Co. (GM), Toyota Motor Co., and Nissan Motor Co. Several additional programs are forthcoming, with a 2009 start-ofproduction (SOP) date, including programs launching in Europe with SEAT1 and Bentley Motors Ltd.; and in North America with Ford, GM, and Toyota. In addition to XIRAN SMA was selected for interior programs launching on new vehicles by Bentley, Ferrari, and Chrysler.

Discussing the speed at which XIRAN SMA was qualified as a drop-in replacement for Dylark SMA before the latter was pulled from the market, Patrick Muezers, managing director at Polyscope said, "Surely, 2009 will be remembered as one of the most-challenging years the global automotive industry has ever experienced. We at Polyscope are proud of how quickly our global team worked during such a difficult time to ensure that no automaker's or tier supplier's plants were forced to idle or shut down during the supply switchover from Nova Chemicals. Not only did we transition more than 50 automotive programs in multiple geographies from Nova in just a few months' time, and picked up completely new automotive business as well, but we also put in place measures to ensure that Polyscope has the capacity to keep far ahead of current and future customer demands. This will position us to continue to provide full service to the market."

One of the changes the company has made is to offer customers the option of buying in bulk with lined, 20-ft / 37,000-lb (6.1-meters /16,783-kg) ocean-shipping containers. Bulk-shipping containers help optimize costs as well as handling activities both at outbound and inbound ports, and also at the customer's facility, where the container's contents can easily be blown into a silo. Although Polyscope ships just-in-time (JIT), the company does maintain safety buffers at docking warehouses in North America and Southeast Asia in the event a shipment is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. Given all the new business that it has acquired recently, Polyscope is also investigating potential compounding locations on both continents to ensure it can quickly add capacity when and where needed.

In addition to assuring supply stability of SMA resins globally, the company has also been working on the chemistry of SMA polymers to modify properties like impact strength and odor/VOC emissions to meet the latest European specifications. Lastly, the company has launched a new line of SMA-based products for non-automotive markets, helping diversify Polyscope's served industries. About Dylark SMA Being Pulled from the Market Nova Chemicals announced this summer that it was discontinuing production of SMA, a resin widely used in automotive components on some of industry's best-selling vehicles. Competitive resin suppliers were quick to point to alternatives that could be substituted for SMA, but often these changes require automakers to either pay for higher properties than are needed or accept lower performance and risk greater warranty issues in exchange for a lower cost raw material. Additionally, automakers worried about the cost and time that would be required to test and qualify competitive resins and cut new tooling (necessary due to SMA's unique low-shrinkage rate).

Fortunately, for tier suppliers and OEMs wishing to keep parts in SMA, a high-quality, productionproven, stable, and globally available supply of this versatile engineering thermoplastic is still readily available.

Polyscope - which has been selling SMA into automotive as well as other markets since 2006 and whose products are featured on some of the highest-volume platforms in Europe and Asia - is well positioned to serve global automotive customers as they transition away from SMA from Nova but wish to avoid the time and expense of switching to other resin systems with different properties. With the company's XIRAN grades now qualified at most automakers, the materials can be used as a drop-in replacement for Nova's former Dylark grades with no changes to equipment or operating parameters during molding, tooling, die cutting, or welding - something that is not true if manufacturers switch to different resin families. This saves processors and their customers significant amounts of time and money.

About SMA Resins
As amorphous thermoplastics with high glass-transition temperatures (Tg) of 145-175oC / 293-347oF, SMA copolymers provide excellent mechanical and thermal performance (heat-deflection temperature (HDT) ratings of 120-150oC / 248-302oF) and consistent gap conditions across broad operating conditions. They also are characterized by excellent heat-aging performance, low moisture absorption, very-low shrinkage (for precision molding without warpage), low coefficient-oflinear- thermal expansion (CLTE) (to reduce thermal mismatches in multi-material systems), excellent long-term dimensional stability over a broad temperature range, excellent creep resistance and screw-torque retention, and good noise / vibration / harshness (NVH) properties. SMA also is stiff enough not to require jigs during post-mold handling and is easy to vibration weld. It offers excellent processability as well as repeatability and reproducibility, helping molders maintain high productivity and short cycle times. Since SMA is a polar resin, it provides very-good adhesion to glass reinforcements, and excellent adhesion to a variety of paints, foams, and adhesives without need for pre-treatments. The high thermal stability of SMA means molders have a wider processing window to work with and the materials maintain high property retention after melt reprocessing and recycling.

Short-glass-reinforced SMA grades offer significant performance and therefore systems-cost and warranty-reduction benefits vs. other amorphous thermoplastics commonly used on vehicle interiors and exteriors, such as short-glass polycarbonate / acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC / ABS), ABS, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA, also known as acrylic), and polystyrene (PS). For example, vs. PC/ABS, SMA provides better adhesion to polyurethane foams (for lower warranty issues), is processed at lower tool and melt temperatures and lower injection pressures (reducing energy requirements and production costs), can fill the same part with fewer gates (lowering tooling costs), provides comparable stiffness in thinner walls (helping lower part weight), has lower specific gravity (again, contributing to lighter parts), and reduces systems cost due to elimination of pretreatment.

SMA with short-glass reinforcement also competes against long-(glass)-fiber-(reinforced)- thermoplastic (LFT) polypropylene (PP). Versus LFT-PP, SMA has far lower post-mold shrinkage and is more dimensionally stable (owing to lower crystallinity), so gaps can be maintained and stack tolerances can be minimized in multi-component assemblies. It is also less prone to creep and warpage, which is critical for parts like IP retainers, which function as positioning / fixturing points for other subsystems. SMA also provides significantly better long-term heat-age performance as well as low-temperature ductility than LFT-PP, and achieves comparable stiffness at lower reinforcement loadings (helping maintain impact strength and surface aesthetics). It behaves predictably even in thin wall sections, offers comparable stiffness in thinner walls than LFT-PP, has faster molding cycles to produce comparable parts, and does not require surface pretreatment to adhere to paint, foams, and other resins, as crystalline thermoplastics like PP do.

XIRAN SMA resins are produced with a unique narrow maleic anhydride distribution. The materials' low residual volatile organic compound (VOC) and oilgomer content contribute to best-in-class (low) odor performance. Polyscope offers grades with a broad range of molecular weight (from 5,000 to 250,000 g / mol) and with between 8 and 45% maleic anhydride content - features that are used to manipulate resin properties.

Typical SMA Applications
Widely used in the automotive industry for more than 25 years, SMA is the benchmark resin for all foamed and skinned or soft IP retainers, where it offers proven systems-cost savings, best-in-class dimensional stability, high-performance in airbag-deployment applications, excellent foam adhesion, good creep resistance, excellent heat-aging performance, and provides consistent properties from -40 to 120oC / -40 to 248oF. Other automotive uses for SMA resins include windshield-demisters housings (cowl-vent grilles), air-duct and airbag surrounds, pillar-trim panels, center consoles, knee bolsters, rear package shelves, rear spoiler trim, substrates for wood, decorative films, and plated trim, plus housings for instrument clusters and switches, door panels, and sunroof support brackets

Non-automotive uses of SMA resins and maleic anhydride intermediates include dielectric isolators (insulators) on printed-circuit boards; microwavable food packaging; sizing chemistry for glass, paper, and wood fibers; solutions and dispersions for the paper industry, printer's inks, and natural fibers; and additive systems to increase thermal stability of polymers and increase miscibility of multi-polymer systems.

About Polyscope Polymers
Founded in 2006 by a team of international private investors, including long-time plastics industry leaders, Polyscope Polymers BV is a Dutch producer of maleic anhydride intermediates and styrene maleic anhydride copolymers. The company has headquarters and production facilities at Geleen, The Netherlands, and sales and marketing offices in metropolitan Detroit and Shanghai, China. Polyscope is the world's premier supplier of SMA resins sold under the trade name XIRAN®.

The group purchased a production plant originally built in 1992 and operated by DSM at Geleen, where that company produced SMA as a heat-stabilizer and compatibilizer for ABS resin. When DSM divested its styrenic products line, Polyscope acquired the plant. The facility has a comprehensive, high-tech design focused on safety and reliability and is ideal for producing a complete range of chemical intermediates, polymers, and compounds. 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.

The company's strategic focus is two-pronged. It produces a range of SMA compounds for use as moldable engineering thermoplastics widely used in the automotive industry as well as optical, food packaging, and business equipment, as well as extruded sheet applications. The company also produces chemical intermediates such as SMA commonly used as stabilizers and performanceenhancing additives for engineered plastics, and sizing chemistry for glass, paper, and natural fibers.

SMA chemistry is also used to improve coatings and dispersions, and for compatibilization in paper, glass binding, ink pigmentation, leather treatment, and other industries. The company's applicationdevelopment teams work closely with customers worldwide to understand the functional requirements of the end product to define the best material to meet application needs. The team brings "fresh thinking and great products" to materials selection using the unique characteristics of SMA products.

For more information about the company, see www.polyscope.eu , or eMail: info@polyscope.eu , or call: +31.46.47.63989, or write: Polyscope Polymers B.V., Chemelot Gate 7, Koolwaterstofstraat 1, NL-6161 RA Geleen.

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