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Technology

Nexam Chemical's operations are based on a proprietary technology that enables the so-called "crosslinking" enhance performance in most types of plastics.

Basically, you could say that plastics consist of long chains, which are called polymers, made out of small carbon-based building blocks (monomers) which are linked together into a long chain. Small ends stick out from these long chains which can be used to attach other molecules (e.g. crosslinkers). Crosslinking is defined as a reaction where multiple chains are linked with one another via crosslinkers. The higher the degree of linking (crosslinking) you can achieve between different chains of plastic, the stronger and more resistant the final material will be.

The product properties are modified and improved significantly by crosslinking the polymer chains in the plastic, at the same time as the service time increases, which means that entirely new fields of application are made possible.

Even though crosslinking as a phenomenon has been known for a long time, existing methods have thus far been way too expensive, complicated and in many cases not usable for crosslinking regular thermoplastics in industrial conditions. With Nexam Chemical's innovative technology, which is based on well-defined and heat-activated crosslinking, the door is opened for completely new opportunities for increased usage on a large scale.

Plastics are primarily divided up into two main groups, thermoplastics and thermosets. The definition of a thermoset is that it cannot be melted or transformed after curing without being destroyed. Thermoplastics are defined as plastics that become plastic when heated up and that can be transformed between a solid state and a plastic state several times.

When it comes to specific properties and advantages, both types differ from one another. The strengths of thermosets include excellent material properties with regard to mechanical strength, heat resistance and chemical resistance. The main advantages of thermoplastic include superior cost-efficiency and processability suitable for mass production. 

There has been a desire in the plastics industry for a long time to be able to combine the advantages of both these types of plastics and thus creating a solution that combines excellent material properties with an attractive price and high processability.

Nexam Chemical's innovations and value offers for users of its technology and products are directly linked to the ability to convert thermoplastics into thermosets, which is illustrated in the steps below.

 

 

A Nexam Chemical manufactures crosslinkers in its own factory in Scotland and via contract manufacturing at partners. The crosslinker powder is then transported to plastics manufacturers.

B In a first step, Nexam Chemical's crosslinker is mixed with the plastic that is to be improved. The hot, liquid plastic compound is converted into functionalised beads (i.e. the crosslinker has reacted with the plastic).

C The beads are packed into a bag and delivered to manufacturers of plastic components.

D Manufacturers of plastic components melt down the plastic beads into a liquid compound.

E In conjunction with the plastic being injected into a moulding tool, the temperature is raised for a brief moment to an even higher level, which causes the crosslinking reaction by Nexam Chemical's additive to start.

F The finished plastic components are cooled and taken out from the injection-mould. They are now made up of a material that is crosslinked and has completely different and better properties than the original plastic would have had.

G Plastic components made out of crosslinked plastic are delivered to end clients for assembly into finished products.

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