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Novel reflective thermoplastic sheet needs no metallization.

Novel Reflective Thermoplastic Sheet Needs No Metallization

A novel, inherently reflective thermoplastic sheet material, formulated to match or exceed the reflectivity of chrome plate or vacuum-deposited aluminum, is being developed by Dow Chemical U.S.A., Midland, Mich. The new material, known as PRM (Polymeric Reflective Material), contains no metal and is designed for standard thermoforming and insert molding.

Gregg Motter, commercial development manager for New Ventures Development, says PRM produces reflective parts right out of the mold, which require no secondary processing operations. It thus eliminates problems of flaking and delamination of a plated or metallized layer, as well as the associated environmental hazards of acids, solvents and metal scrap generated by plating operations.

The material is now being produced at a pilot facility. Motter declined to identify the plastic resin or formulating technology, or even whether it was an amorphous or crystalline polymer. Once commercialized, PRM material will be available only as film or sheet stock, Motter said. It will not be offered in pelletized form for injection molding, although the resin is thermoplastic, and scrap can be reprocessed.


Dow developed this material over nearly two years. Motter said that once the initial material technology was defined in the laboratory, Dow examined the various industry niches for reflective materials and considered the problems associated with traditional electroplated metals and plastics.

Dow then began to tailor the broad, basic material technology to meet the needs of specific target market applications. Automotive lighting and reflective trim, appliances, and high-temperature optical components and light reflectors have been identified by Dow as the initial major application areas.

Dow began sampling and testing PRM prototype parts with several customers in June. Although no timetable was revealed for full commercialization, Dow will develop PRM technology as a family of materials, with assorted grades distinguished by varying degrees of reflectivity, surface finish and physical properties, customized for the application.

The new material will span a reflectivity level from 30% to 90%, with a surface finish ranging from pewter-like to mirror-chrome quality. While physical and mechanical properties of the material were not made available, Motter did say PRM has a heat-deflection temperature of 275 F at 66 psi. (CIRCLE 30)

PHOTO : Dow's non-metallized thermoplastic sheet (above) is useful for automotive reflective trim (left), as well as appliances and optical components.
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Author:Gabriele, Michael C.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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