kuraray


News Releases 2004

Mass Production Technology for Acrylic Thermoplastic Elastomer Established

April 30, 2004
Kuraray Co., Ltd.

Kuraray has used its proprietary catalyst technology to develop the world's first manufacturing process for an acrylic thermoplastic elastomer, and has established mass production technology for this material, which offers excellent transparency and weather resistance.
Kuraray is building a pilot plant on the grounds of its Kashima Plant to facilitate confirmation of the technology and the creation of a market for this material. The Company will be moving forward with full-scale marketing in the near future.

This thermoplastic elastomer has the transparency and weather resistance of PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), added to the elasticity and plasticity of rubber. Furthermore, it contains absolutely no low-molecular-weight components, which are a cause of pollution.
These characteristics are expected to fit this material for a broad spectrum of applications, including those below.

  • (1) Because of its low-pollution, solvent-free characteristics, it is ideal as a base polymer for high-performance adhesives
  • (2) Its transparency, plasticity, and high flow properties suit it for use in various molding materials.
  • (3) Its characteristics as an acrylic make it suitable for use as a modifier for polar resins.

Work in connection with the optimum molecular design for the material's application as a base polymer for adhesives has been completed, and the Company is ready to commence full-scale marketing in this sector.
Japan's domestic adhesive market is at approximately 190,000 tons per year and growing steadily.
This material is responsive to demands for lower environmental impact at the time of manufacturing and use, as well as to the electronics industry's demand for higher performance (reduced pollution, improved heat resistance, etc.).

An Environmentally Friendly Material

(1) Material
composed entirely of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, can be recycled.
(2) Manufacturing process
only halogen-free solvents are used, so no toxic metals are emitted, even in waste.
(3) Characteristics
when used in adhesives or in solvent-free molded materials, can be molded without the use of reactive plasticizers or other additives, and is easily recycled.

New Technology

Research into the manufacturing of acrylic thermoplastic elastomers is in progress across the globe. However, existing methods required the use of cryogenic temperatures (-80) and long periods for polymerization. These drawbacks were major barriers to the industrialization of acrylic thermoplastic elastomers.
Kuraray's development of a proprietary catalyst allowed the development of an industrially viable production polymerization process that proceeds at normal temperatures and in a short period of time, allowing precision control of polymerization. This is the first commercial production of acrylic thermoplastic elastomers in the world.

Kuraray's thermoplastic elastomer business is at present centered on styrene and urethane thermoplastic elastomers, but the Company will be fostering its acrylic thermoplastic elastomer business in the expectation that it will become a major pillar of this segment.