By Liz White, UT editor
Stuttgart, Germany-FoamPartner has developed a new material, StructUre, ostensibly a flexible polyurethane foam, but with remarkable properties.
When irradiated using an electron beam, carbon-carbon double bonds in this foam open to form new crosslinks, turning a flexible material into a harder, more rigid foam, explained Christoph Hoffman, market development and product manager with FoamPartner unit Reisgies Schaumstoffe GmbH, based in Leverkusen, Germany.
The technology is "a bridge between flexible and rigid foams … the missing link," he added.
Hoffmann listed potential uses in self-supporting big filters and acoustic components, in large laminar protective and decorative parts, and as the inner element in sandwich components.
FoamPartner intends to license the process, Hoffmann said, since it "has so much potential … far beyond the horizons of the flexible foam sector."
Foam Partner is a network of partner companies in flexible foam within Europe, including Reisgies.
Hoffmann (pictured) was talking about the StructUre material at the 15-16 Nov meeting for plastic foam processors, organised by the German plastic foam association the FSK (Fachverband Schaumkunststoffe EV).
Reisgies already has some small customers for the process, Hoffmann said. But he believes the material and process will be "very interesting in the composites sector," for sandwich structures.
Also, if parts of the material are shielded during irradiation, then a mixed hard and soft material results. "Two hardnesses in one product," could be exploited in a wide range of uses, Hoffmann said.