2013 Issue 2—Form meets function for comfort, aesthetics and safety

Form meets function for comfort, aesthetics and safety

 

Rene GarzaThe balancing act between physical performance and eye-pleasing design is slowly disappearing as advanced materials provide greater design flexibility and enhanced performance.




Not all that long ago, designers often had to decide between form and function, sacrificing aesthetics for the sake of performance and vice versa. However, with advances in materials technology, including both the formulation and the processing of advanced engineering polymers, this trade-off is becoming less of an issue. Now designers have far greater freedom to express individuality, and are better able to reduce weight, improve comfort and enhance safety.

 

In this issue we look at a variety of products that have taken advantage of advanced polymer science to improve product performance without any of the trade-offs. These designs have also utilized the skills and expertise available from DuPont to help ensure maximum performance throughout the products' lifecycles, from initial design and processing all the way through, in one instance, to sustainability at the end of their life.

 

The MUMA Ingo chair is a superb example of balancing form and function. The project, which involved a leading design agency, took a long, hard look at the humble office chair and led to the creation of a seat design that meets multiple functional, ergonomic and aesthetic criteria, without having to opt for any overcompensation in the use of structural materials. This was thanks to the capabilities offered by DuPont™ Hytrel® thermoplastic polyester elastomers in its backrest design.

 

In a completely different industry, ABB needed to find a material that could cope with the high temperatures associated with arcing within DC switching devices. The compact design of their new solar industry switch range meant that there were minimal buffer zones, so the material had to offer a relevant tracking performance (CTI). ABB found a capable solution in the form of DuPont™ Zytel® flame retardant nylon, which also provided the necessary impact resistance and strength.

 

The food industry is just as heavily regulated as the power industry, but presents a whole new set of challenges. In this issue we look at a new food industry bag closure which deploys metal detectable food-grade DuPont™ Delrin® acetal resin. Should any cross contamination occur, users can be confident that the material will be detected by their post-filling detection equipment should any breakages occur.

 

Our final case study examines the constant strive toward weight and size reduction in the laptop market. The Blade 13 laptop PC, from Taiwanese laptop manufacturer Inhon, can now stake a claim to being the world's thinnest and lightest PC laptop, which uses top and bottom covers made from plastic. The laptop has DuPont™ Zytel® HTN to thank for its diminutive size and weight figures.

 

We finish with new formulations for established markets with the introduction of DuPont™ Zytel® LC 7000 and Zytel® RS LC 4000 into the industrial hose and tubing markets. The new grades offer impressive aging performance, low permeability, an excellent yield stress/stiffness balance and a broad extrusion processing window, while offering flexibility levels similar to PA12, but with significantly better cold impact toughness. An RS version also helps the industry with its end-of-life sustainability commitments.

 

I hope this issue delivers food for thought when it comes to your designs and helps you to understand that trade-offs are not always necessary. Even if a material does not meet your exact specifications, it is possible to tailor it to better match your needs; something that DuPont excels in and has done in numerous instances for many of its customers. Don't let your choice of materials be a hindrance; instead consider it a doorway to new possibilities.