BASF develops first semi-transparent nylon for lighting covers; rival to PCs and styrene coploymers


Germany-based chemicals firm BASF says it has succeeded in developing a semi-crystalline polyamide that allows light to pass through largely unhindered. Ultramid Vision combines very high light transmission with low light scattering, it says. This makes it the world’s first semi-crystalline polyamide for semi-transparent or transparent components in chemically challenging environments. Moreover, the polyamide is UV and temperature resistant, scratch-proof as well as suitable for flame-retardant requirements. Ultramid Vision can be used in various application fields: for parts for visual check, illumination or light design and as an alternative to commonly used materials such as amorphous aliphatic polyamides, polycarbonate or styrene-acrylonitrile copolymers. The new polyamide is globally available for sampling from now.

Ultramid Vision has physical and thermal properties which are similar to conventional unreinforced polyamide 6 compounds. However, it stands apart from these compounds significantly thanks to its visual properties. While semi-crystalline standard polyamides are nearly opaque, that is visually hazy, at a wall thickness of 1 mm, one can see easily through parts made of Ultramid Vision at wall thicknesses of up to several mm. Even if components are exposed to elevated temperatures and moisture, the haze and transmission values hardly change compared to being freshly moulded, says BASF.

It thus, offers a compelling choice compared to alternative transparent and semi-transparent materials thanks to its balanced property profile of good mechanics and processability together with high temperature, scratch and chemical resistance at an attractive price level. It has outstanding UV resistance and is also suitable for applications involving direct exposure to sunlight. The UV resistance was tested both for indoor use and under outdoor weathering conditions using conventional accelerated weathering tests. Furthermore, it shows stress cracking resistance to sun screen, cleaning agents and solvents as well as fats and oils.

In addition to the uncoloured base grade Ultramid Vision B3K un, there is the option of producing specially equipped products featuring diffuse light scattering along with high transmittance. Customers can also obtain specially coloured grades or it can be coloured with polyamide-based colour masterbatches from BASF. In addition, the new resin can be combined with other polyamide materials in a multi-component injection-moulding process. This leads to easy production of multifunctional parts with transparent or illuminated sections.

It is particularly suitable for applications requiring a visual check, e.g. level indicators. The new polyamide can also be used for shockproof and chemically resistant covers for lighting elements. Further application areas include back-lit switches and buttons or diffusely scattering light covers in chemically aggressive environments. Because of the wide scope, with low-migration and lightfast colorants, luminous colour effects can be achieved that offer a wide range of design possibilities for creating design objects or design features.


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