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product development | Material selection

tors. “It is not only colour. In the end you have to have an innovative formulation that fulfils the requirements of the application, and that’s more than colour,” he says. “Go into a supermarket and see the shampoo bottles on the shelf. They all are roughly the same price but specific people pick specific shapes or specific colours and effects. That’s what Invisio is all about – every little advantage counts,” Kronimus explains. “We are targeting this at brand owners and private labels and the designers they work with.” Ohio, US-headquartered PolyOne is an increasingly

Above: GEM polymer samples on display in a Materiautech centre

innovation centres. Kronimus says that working with design service partners such as Materiautech is not intended to replace its own direct activities but to enable it to make contact with companies that may not even realise they can benefit from a performance polymer solution. “One of the things is we want to do is kind of inspire potential customers. I mean, when you look at metal replacement you need to let them know what is possible today with special plastics.” He highlights the Therma-Tech line of thermally

Right: Xindao’s Sunshine USB charger uses ReSound

biopolymers to cut carbon

footprint by 35%

conductive compounds, which were introduced last year and can be used to replace metal in heat sinks in electronic devices such as LED lamps. The materials allow designers to reduce part count, incorporate additional features and reduce weight and manufactur- ing cost. Other metal replacement options include the XeCarb line of high performance mechanical compo- nents developed by Xenia of Italy and distributed by Poly- One across the rest of Europe, and the OnForce LFT and Gravi-Tech high density magnetic materials. The company’s Invisio colour and design service follows the same ‘reach out to the designer’ strategy but takes a slightly different angle, Kronimus says. The service comprises three elements: Insights includes colour forecasts and trend predictions; Vision deals with the interaction between colour and texture and the product design; and Intelligence develops an appropriate colorant system for the application (whether that be a compound, masterbatch or liquid colorant). Kronimus believes Invisio will be

viewed as a valuable package of support tools by its customers, and one that distinguishes the company from competi-

18 INJECTION WORLD | October 2013

global business. Of its 2012 sales of around $3.0bn, around 39% was derived from outside of the US. Being able to deliver products and know-how to customers located around the world is vitally important in today’s manufacturing environment, according to Kronimus. He cites the example of the company’s recent collaboration with Netherlands-headquartered Xindao, as one example. Xindao is a supplier of promotional items. However,

the company, which is based at Rijswijk in the Nether- lands, is unusual in its market in that it designs and manufactures its products rather than sourcing them from external suppliers. To that end, the company has its own design facility, XD Design, located in Shanghai in China. And it operates to high standards; XD Design won its seventh Red Dot design award this year. Xindao is aiming to increase the amount of renew-

able content in its products so, when it embarked on the development of its latest solar powered USB charger, it approached PolyOne for assistance. “Part of their company mission is trying to be more sustainable and to establish themselves as a niche in that industry as a supplier of sustainable gifts,” says Kronimus. “They want to put a stake in the ground.” The injection moulded casing compo-

nents for the Sunshine solar charger are produced in PolyOne’s ReSound biopolymer, which Xindao estimates reduces its carbon footprint by up to 35% compared with alterna-

tives such as ABS (used by the company in

the past on similar products). PolyOne’s ReSound grades are blends of bio-based polymers such as PLA, PHB or PHBV with conventional plastics such as ABS. They are designed for durable applications such as consumer goods and electronics. Kronimus said the collaboration resulted in the development of a custom ReSound grade for the project. “This was a truly global solution; a three continent collaboration between the US, a Dutch company in Europe, and finally an Asian company,” he says. ❙

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