Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Bayer MaterialScience’s array of polyurethane materials is large enough that a new one almost might slip by, but the company’s recently introduced Desmopan DP 2795A SMP thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is something special. The letters SMP are for Shape Memory Plastics; this material has a memory.
A part made of this polymer, which Bayer MaterialScience developed together with the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), can be easily formed into another shape. It will stay in that shape until heated to its “switching temperature” (about 40ºC/104ºF), when it will revert to its original shape. Bayer sees applications in many markets, such as automotive, sports, toys, and aerospace.
Applications could include auto body parts that could be repaired with a hair dryer, remote temperature sensors, artificial muscles, hinges, self-loosening screws, packaging, and shrink tubing. Bayer and the BAM have applied for a patent in the area of functional film tunnels and self-erecting structures. Film tunnels made flat would be easy to lay in a farm field, and when heated would return to their original bent shape, and then would act like greenhouses to accelerate plant growth.
Seeking to address the growing problem of product counterfeiting and brand protection, the BAM has developed labels made of the new TPU, with engraved, colored quick response (QR) codes that can be read only if the labels are in their original shape. Products thus marked would be difficult to counterfeit.
Besides having a memory, Desmopan DP 2795A SMP has the normal properties of TPU, for example abrasion resistance, flexibility, and good chemical resistance, and Bayer says it is suitable for food contact applications.