DuPont announced an alliance with Canada-based Morph Technologies Inc., Integran Technologies Inc., and U.S.-based PowerMetal Technologies to develop and commercialize a nanocrystalline metal/polymer hybrid technology that will be used to manufacture extremely lightweight components with the strength and stiffness of metal and the design flexibility and lightweight benefits of high-performance thermoplastics.
"DuPont has consistently led the industry in providing metal replacement solutions. Now we are turning traditional plastic/metal hybrid technology inside-out with an innovative 'metal over plastic' technology that delivers not only a step-change in performance, but also provides product designers with a technology that can help shift the current paradigm," Keith J. Smith, vice president and general manager - DuPont Engineering Polymers, said.
The new offering - MetaFuse(TM) nanometal/polymer hybrids - uses a proprietary process that precisely applies ultra high-strength nanometal to components made of DuPont engineering polymers. This creates lightweight components in myriad, complex shapes with the stiffness of magnesium or aluminum and higher strength.
The patented technology in MetaFuse(TM) nanometal/polymer hybrids produces metals with grain size 1,000 times smaller than those of conventional metals, according to Gino Palumbo, president and chief technology officer of Integran Technologies Inc. This technology directly creates an integral metal cladding with a nanocrystalline grain structure. Nanoparticles are not created at any stage in the manufacturing process. "Nano-crystalline nickel or nickel-iron are high-performance metals that are two to three times stronger than normal steel and also are significantly harder, with better wear and friction performance," Palumbo said.
"MetaFuse(TM) nanometal/polymer hybrids are exciting for product and component designers because they truly allow freedom to design with fewer limits," Clive Robertson, business development manager - DuPont Engineering Polymers, said. "Metal offers strength and high stiffness, but is limited in its ability to enable integration and to cost effectively create complex shapes. Conversely, thermoplastic offers tremendous freedom to create shapes and to integrate functions, but it has suffered from some limitation in combining strength and stiffness. With this technology, designers can have the best of both worlds."
Initial developments will focus on selected applications in the automotive, consumer electronics and sporting goods markets that offer the maximum benefits that the technology can deliver. Under the agreement, DuPont will lead application development for global customers to bring this innovative technology to market by utilizing its global development, R&D and customer-support centers.
"The foundation of DuPont Engineering Polymers is application development based on high-performance materials and technology aimed at helping customers deliver high-quality, cost-effective systems and components," said Robertson. "MetaFuse(TM) is a logical extension of that offering and builds out our newest Advanced Metals Replacement portfolio, which today includes an array of stiff, strong, impact-resistant thermoplastics and is slated to expand even further in the near future."
This new offering is part of DuPont Engineering Polymers Advanced Metals Replacement portfolio, which also includes SuperStructural Monolithic Solutions, an array of glass-, carbon- and long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics.