Ahead of ‘Innovation Takes Root‘ this February, which two members of the Floreon team will be attending I’d like to sum up what exactly makes Floreon special for anyone who might be interested. Don’t forget to visit our exhibition space at the conference!
Floreon is around 90% PLA compounded with two special ingredients that work together to both ‘toughen’ the material and also make it easier to process. We developed the material with a specific application in mind but found that the resulting blend was far more versatile than we expected, and started exploring other possibilities.
It’s best to sum up the effects with some specific examples, so:
- In injection moulding, Floreon requires 20% lower inject pressure compared to unmodified Ingeo with identical cycle times.
- In sheet extrusion, Floreon allowed the barrel temperature to be lowered by around 60 F (15 °C), and the screw drive current was reduced to less than half (20 amps to less than 10) compared to uncompounded PLA.
- Floreon is far tougher than unmodified PLA, with independent testing showing that it is tougher than typical PET grades. Floreon sheet is four times tougher than the PLA equivalent and elongation at break (tensile test, 50 mm/ min crosshead speed) is increased by around 6 times.
We’ve also observed some other exciting effects (such as a massive reduction in crystallization times, leaving the door open to rapid crystallization in the mould for heat resistant parts) but we still have some way to go here.
But other additives are available that do similar things, so what?
The special thing about our additives is that they are effective at low addition levels (less than 10%) preserving high biobased content, but more importantly they don’t compromise the other positive aspects of PLA. Specifically, our additives are all completely degradable (certified to EN13432) and suitable for food contact.
This is in contrast to some additives which are not suitable for either composting or food contact, detracting from the great environmental credentials of PLA.
The boosts to performance and toughness occur because of a ‘synergy’ between our carefully selected additives. When compounded correctly they interact to disperse throughout the material, forming a unique polymer-polymer ‘nanocomposite’ structure with dispersed spheres which deflect stresses and energy in the finished product with minimal effect on clarity.
So, in summary Floreon is an additive technology which boosts the performance of PLA, allowing lower processing temperatures and pressures without impacting on the things that make PLA special in the first place!