WILMINGTON, Del. — Du Pont Co. has announced what it called a breakthrough in plastics technology that could eventually replace metal, glass and other materials used in the automotive and electronics industries.
Du Pont said it has discovered a process for making super-tough and heat-resistant polyarylate resins at prices up to 20% lower than current costs.
The announcement on Tuesday reflected the increasingly important role that plastics are playing in auto manufacturing and represented a possible new threat to the beleaguered steel industry, which over the years has sold much of its output to auto makers.
Introduced under the trademark Arylon polyarylate engineering resins, the new line is strong, resistant to high temperatures and weathering, and easier to process compared with other high-performance plastics, including currently available polyarylate products, Du Pont said in a press release.
"There is a large market opportunity for Arylon," said Nicholas Pappas, group vice president of polymer products. "We believe that its attractive price and performance characteristics will generate sales of about $250 million worldwide within 10 years."
The new resins can be used for printed circuit boards, auto body parts, microwave ovens and sports equipment, Pappas said.
One of the largest initial uses will be for automotive exterior body parts, where products will be marketed under the Bexloy trademark, he said. Du Pont has already molded developmental thermoplastic doors, fenders and bumpers and expects car doors to be sold commercially within a year.
"This technology brings closer to reality the production of high-performance thermoplastic car bodies," Pappas said. "It is expected to give consumers important advantages--lightweight, corrosion-resistant and dent-resistant parts that have a longer life than steel."
"This means higher quality, extended car life and higher trade-in values for consumers while giving lower investment and finished product costs to auto makers," Pappas said.
In the electrical-electronics field, the characteristics of high-temperature resistance, dimensional stability and flame resistance are expected to be used in printed circuit boards, connectors and large injection molded components. Other markets for Arylon include small housings and trim and appearance parts for the appliance industry, microwave cookware and sports and recreation products, Du Pont said.
Du Pont is a diversified chemical, energy and specialty products company with 1985 sales of $29.5 billion. Engineering plastics continue to be the fastest-growing business of the company's $3.5 billion worldwide polymer products segment.