Chemical supplier BASF has opened a new research lab for thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) in Michigan.
According to BASF, the lab, located in Wyandotte, Mich., just south of Detroit, will be home to product developers, chemists, and material scientists who will work to discover new products for the automotive, construction, and sports and leisure industries.
"Closeness to our North American customers and fast and direct contact are key criteria in enabling us to tap into new ideas and emerging market trends and produce sustainable innovations," said Dr. Christian Fischer, president of BASF’s Advanced Materials & Systems Research division. "The new lab in Wyandotte is the latest strategic step toward an ever more global overall approach to research." Fischer added that it was also intended as a basis for expansion of the existing scientific network with universities and other research facilities in North America.
The initially five-person team’s main working area is TPU synthesis and processing. The aim is to customize key material properties such as stiffness, elasticity, transparency and UV stability to meet individual customer wishes by varying the manufacturing conditions.
The basic properties of TPUs include high scratch and abrasion resistance, high tensile strength, very good cushioning, high flexibility at cold temperatures and excellent resistance to oil, grease, oxygen and ozone. Applications for these highly versatile plastics include cables and tubes in the automotive, mechanical engineering and construction industries.
Polyurethane as films is used for packaging, skis and snowboards, air cushioning systems for insoles and as fibres for clothing textiles.