CLEVELAND—Dow Chemical Co. is not resting on its laurels as it continues to push its EPDM technology to help benefit its customers.
Dow's Packaging and Specialty Plastics Division showed off its new Nordel 4590 and 4750 OE EPDMs at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland. The firm said the two grades are ideal for high-performance thermoplastic vulcanizate applications, including automotive weatherstripping, hoses, molded rubber goods and building/construction materials.
Lena Nguyen, global technology leader for Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics, said the Nordel EPDM line has been in the industry for more than 50 years and is constantly being upgraded to serve customers with the latest technologies.
The two new grades improve manufacturing efficiency for Dow's customers, including mixing, processing and high filler loading. They also help manufacturers achieve lightweighting goals
"We see lightweighting in multiple industries," Nguyen said. "The smaller the part, the lower cost it takes to produce it. As a rubber supplier, it's important that we give our customers the polymer that enables them to produce a part that's high quality, smooth surface and no defects."
She added that Nordel 4570 OE is the first of its kind available in a free-flow pellet form. Currently, the product has to be granulated before being fed into an extruder. Dow's 4570 OE eliminates that step in the manufacturing process to simplify it for customers, who can feed the product directly into the extruder.
The firm's 4590 grade has a high molecular weight, which Nguyen said optimizes mixing performance and improves the extrusion process for customers.
"We are developing these new products to address key trends in the industry," Nguyen said. "Better and safer handling products, manufacturing efficiency and sustainability are really the key trends we see in the industry."
The firm has been busy in the last three years. Nguyen said Dow has rolled out improvements to increase manufacturing output, optimize formulation, improve costs and increase manufacturing efficiency in both 2017 and 2018.
It also has been investing significantly in the last few years to increase development capabilities. The firm recently opened its Elastomers Innovation Center, located at the firm's Freeport, Texas, facility, which Nguyen said enhances Dow's ability to collaborate with stronger rubber testing, innovation and development capabilities.
"Our intention here is to offer a personalized collaboration with our customers to help them accelerate their development," Nguyen said.
Dow also launched a world scale EPDM production plant in Plaquemine, La., which in 2017 the firm said would produce 440 million pounds of EPDM annually. Nguyen said the expansion makes Dow the largest EPDM producer in North America.
The firm will need the capacity to address growing trends throughout its end markets, particularly automotive, where Nguyen said E-mobility is pushing the need for more advanced materials, including EPDM compounds. Many auto makers have electric platforms set to launch within the next five years, and most projections have electric and hybrid vehicles gaining market share through 2030.
"To fit every other component in the car today, the engine is getting smaller to make room, but it still needs to provide the same output," Nguyen said. "Products at the component level have to withstand a much higher temperature than they did before."