Kristen Powers goes into some of the incredible innovations of synthetics and other advanced materials, and how they're changing equipment and processes across the globe.
Advanced Material Trends Transforming the Way the World Operates
By Kristen Powers
Whether it’s the car you drive, the sports equipment you use or the technologies you interact with, many of the items in your daily life are made of advanced materials with engineered properties created through the development of specialized processing and synthesis technology, including ceramics, high value-added metals, electronic materials, composites, polymers, and biomaterials.
TSE Industries, a Florida-based manufacturer of advanced materials, has a unique perspective on the way the world operates, and they are constantly looking for new and inventive ways for their products to be utilized. Innovation begins at TSE's Specialty Chemicals division. For decades, they have worked with retailers on adhesives, coatings, sealants and epoxies that keep our cars on the road.
Below are three advanced material trends they’ve identified as game changers.
Surface Material Innovations
Exciting things are happening with industrial surface innovations that can make surfaces more durable, safer to interact with and improve overall performance. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, surface engineers have been hard at work to master antimicrobials for more reliable protection for both industrial and non-industrial applications.
Surface engineers are also working to improve surface performance and durability. For example, TSE has experienced a recent uptick in the sporting goods industry in the areas of leading-edge handles, improved grips, wear-resistant balls and other equipment using polyurethane rubber. The rubber is well-suited for these repetitive-type activities due to its high tensile strength and high-abrasion and oil-resistant properties. There has also been interest in the aeronautical and aerospace industries with these materials as certain grades of the polyurethane rubber withstand extreme temperature changes, staying flexible in low temperatures and performing well when the mercury rises.
While we anxiously wait for our groceries or packages to be delivered, TSE is also researching how to make that process go even quicker and smoother. They are investigating how dry and wet packaging slides or moves across the ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene sheets it manufactures and fabricates as conveyor systems and other components. TSE has been working with clients to find the appropriate Duro-Glide® UHMW formula with different additives that can improve the surface's antistatic, antimicrobial, abrasion-resistance and low coefficient of friction. Couple that with designing and fabricating a more efficient UHMW surface of perforations for rollers or air to flow through, and items are moving through distribution facilities with speed and efficiency!
Material Management & Supply Chain Innovations
The materials sector is being rapidly digitized and interconnected by Industry 4.0. TSE is working closely with its subsidiary WHK BioSystems, for example, to bring new technologies in-house. They have seen the U.S. market face a shortage of components for implantable medical devices and have decided to proactively mitigate lead times to suppliers. They are having custom designed presses installed at their facility in Florida which will allow them to press ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene implantable pieces for medical devices. TSE has also been aggressively investing back into their manufacturing capabilities with the addition of programmable logic controllers for digital process control and data archiving. This means clients can return to TSE time after time and expect the same results batch after batch. These new avenues are transforming industries by improving supply chain processes.
Health & Wellness Innovations
Chemicals and human health seem at odds on the surface, but when you look deeper at the chemical make-up of today's emerging polymers, you will see they actually go hand-in-hand. In recent months, TSE has seen chemical formulation evolve into must-have uses within the health and wellness, cosmetics, and entertainment industries. They are developing new products that have a softer, more skin-like appearance for use as facial scrubbers, massagers, marital aids, and realistic-looking masks.
While having a texture similar to skin, the qualities of the chemicals are surprisingly tear-resistant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and non-porous. They are slowly replacing latex, phthalates, and other materials that can irritate the epidermis and lead to breakouts, rashes or burns. With research in the field, there is strong evidence that these polymers are more than just a trend, too. Industries are looking for improved safety for their customers beyond just skin contact. The chemicals have shown promising results when used with components in finished goods including circuit boards, batteries, and microprocessor chips. Next Halloween when you are looking for a safe, life-like masks that lights up, consider all the research that went into creating the skin-like polymer before it even got to market.