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LCP developments progressing

Superex Polymer pushes onward with development of liquid crystal polymers, which have potential application in multilayer beer bottles and stand-up pouches.

Pw 19184 Superx

Packaging World spoke with Rick Lusignea, president, Superex Polymer, Inc., (Waltham, MA) to check on the status of the company’s development of liquid crystal polymers for packaging applications. The company manufactures and licenses sheet, film and tubing from LCPs and LCP blends. LCPs have barrier properties, do not scalp flavors, and are priced lower than ethylene vinyl alcohol, PW is told. The company’s test data shows that an LCP-PET container, with a 1-mil LCP barrier layer, offers 11 times the oxygen barrier and 25 times the moisture barrier of a monolayer polyethylene terephthalate container. Notably, the absorption rate is 300 times slower that of monolayer PET. Lusignea feels LCPs are particularly applicable for multilayer plastic beer bottles. In ‘98, Japan’s Kirin Brewery had a keen interest in LCPs, but Lusignea says the brewer has since moved away from LCPs in favor of its own “Diamond” coating development. Currently, LCPs do not have FDA approval for food contact applications, but Lusignea informs Packaging World that LCP resin suppliers are “on the road” toward FDA approval; he also feels there may be potential in the buried layers of multilayer structures, which could simplify FDA approval. Another LCP distinction is its “pearlescent sheen.” Lusignea suggests that the polymers could find use as an alternative to metallized substrates used in standup pouch applications. The haziness of such substrates is a drawback to its use in multilayer clear bottles, a hurdle Superex hopes to overcome, says Lusignea. He sees two routes to solving that challenge, either through molding changes or modification of the resin formulation, the latter being more likely. Superex obtains the LCP from any of four domestic sources: Ticona, DuPont, BP Amoco and Eastman Chemical. Superex’s involvement in LCP barrier bottles is to license the technology to a molder. “LCPs are polyesters, and so fit in well with [established] blow molding processes,” states Lusignea.

Superex Polymer Inc., Phone: 781/890-2216.

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