The next best thing in plastics

A new engineering thermoplastic from Shell is highly resistant to fuels, coolants, transmission fluid, oils and greases. It also moulds easily, without the need for pre-drying or conditioning. Shell believes the commercialisation of Carilon, a semi-crystalline engineering thermoplastic (ETP), is one of the most important developments in the polymer industry since the introduction of nylon and polycarbonate.

Some other very high performance aromatic polyketones such as PEEK, BASF’s Ultrapek and Amoco’s Kadel, already compete in individual niche applications where very specific performance properties are required. But Carilon aliphatic polyketones have a wider range of applications than individual aromatic polyketones, and as yet no other aliphatic polyketones are commercially available.

Mouldings in the material have a good definition with a glossy, mar-resistant surface. They have high wear and friction characteristics and high resilience. They also retain their properties over a wide range of temperature and have a low sensitivity to water.

The catalyst Shell uses in the manufacture allows the polymerisation of carbon monoxide and olefins into linear, perfectly alternating structures, making this an attractive material for the automotive, electrical, industrial and consumer appliance markets. Carilon polymers could potentially be used in every part of the fuel system, and companies such as Porsche, Veritas, VDO and BMW are currently testing the materials in many of these applications.

The computer printer manufacturers Lexmark are also taking advantage of Carilon’s ability to resist wear, because it gives the same high quality tribological performance without lubrication than higher priced polymers which are lubricated. The company is using ink cartridge gears for laser printers made from Carilon on a production basis.

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