Resin partnership

Two UK companies have joined forces to accelerate the introduction of affordable hybrid silsesquioxane resins that will enhance the performance of coatings, adhesives and bulk polymers.

County Durham-based Thomas Swan and Company has joined up with Cambridge research and technology organisation TWI to commercialise the latter’s patented Vitolane technology – a novel process to manufacture silsesquioxanes.

Silsesquioxanes have a ceramic (silicon-oxygen) backbone with organic groups attached. They aim to combine the benefits of polymers and ceramics in their performance and flexibility.

These organic-inorganic resins can be tailored to offer a range of functions to coatings, adhesives and bulk polymers such as improved abrasion resistance, increased resistance to heat and solvents and better barrier properties.

The technology is being actively investigated for industrial applications such as durable coatings for white goods and consumer electronics, hard, optically clear coatings for DVDs and CDs, flexible packaging and novel low-viscosity adhesives.

The adoption of silsesquioxanes has been compromised by the high-cost manufacturing methods available to date. TWI has been able to considerably enhance yield using its Vitolane technology, while increasing the versatility to produce multi-functional silsesquioxanes.

‘TWI has breakthrough technology to make the key performance benefits of silsesquioxanes much more accessible to industry,’ said Russell Clarke of Thomas Swan. ‘Our partnership with TWI will create a secure manufacturing base to produce and supply these materials and so accelerate their adoption across a wide range of applications.’