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Newsletter "SEI NEWS" 2014

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[Newsletter "SEI WORLD" Vol.446]

FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer

Sumitomo Electric Fine Polymer Inc. (SFP) supplies fluoropolymer products, such as SUMIFLON™ Coated Aluminum?often used as the surface coating in rice cooker pans?and POREFLON™ microfiltration membrane, as well as irradiation technology products, such as Sumitube™. Let’s take a look at FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer, developed through a fusion of two SFP core technologies: fluoropolymer processing technology and electron irradiation technology.

Bearings coated with FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer

Product announcement February 2012
 

What is FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer?

Fluoropolymer has a range of unique characteristics, including extremely low friction resistance (one of the lowest among solid materials) and excellent non-adhesion properties, along with a high resistance against heat and chemicals. However, the material can easily wear out due to its weak intermolecular bonds, and it is also difficult to fix it to a base material. FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer overcame these disadvantages by crosslinking* the fluoropolymer utilizing electron-beam irradiation under specific conditions. This gave FEX™ nearly 1,000 times improved wear resistance compared to a conventional fluoropolymer and better capabilities in adhering to a base material.

* Crosslinking:
Formation of bridge-like links by bonding parts of one polymer chain to another.

 

Wide usage of FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer

Utilizing the features described above, we are currently working together with our client companies to develop and test bearings, sliders, and sliding gaskets that employ FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer. These components can be utilized in industrial machines, automobiles, and electrical/electronic devices.

The product is also being effectively used inside our company. SFP had a problem of defective Sumitube™ items during its extrusion stage caused by foreign matter adhering to the extrusion die. We solved this problem by coating the die with FEX™ Crosslinked Fluoropolymer, which successfully prevented the adherence of foreign matter. SFP now offers this technology as a coating service and has received a number of requests for this. The product is gaining a high reputation from both group companies and external companies that produce molded products.

■Interview with engineer in charge

Kazuaki Ikeda, Development Section, Functional Fluororesin Products Division, Sumitomo Electric Fine Polymer, Inc.

What type of difficulties did you encounter in developing FEX?

Fluoropolymer is one of the most difficult materials to crosslink. Forming stable links was an incredibly difficult task. The conditions required to form crosslinks are very particular and utilize highly complex production technologies. However, we progressed into the stage of developing and installing a mass production system that could manufacture products at an economical cost.

Another difficulty associated with this product was the number of similar patents registered by competitors. We tackled this problem by taking proactive measures, such as utilization of a trial system for patent invalidation*. We are now steadily building up our patent network.

* Trial system for patent invalidation:
System to request the Japan Patent Office to invalidate patents that have already been registered.

 
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