It's a small, sparkly world!

(L) Colored plastic samples. (C) a microbead encapsulating a metallic flake. (R) Fazila Seker, Ph.D. developed the encapsulation process that makes sparkly plastic beautiful.

(L) Colored plastic samples. (C) a microbead encapsulating a metallic flake. (R) Fazila Seker, Ph.D. developed the encapsulation process that makes sparkly plastic beautiful.

Yesterday we went to visit a injection molding facility in Canada. The engineers there are experts in all different types of plastics and they showed us various samples that could meet our requirements.

One sample that they showed us was a beautiful colored resin with metallic sparkles embedded in it. We liked it so much that the factory gave us a sample to take back to the office.

Today, we were demonstrating Linkitz to some friends and showed them the sample of the sparkly plastic. Our friend Fazila said, "Oh! That's SABIC Visualfx!" She was right, and I asked her how she knew. Fazila explained sparkly plastics to us.

To get the sparkle effect, metal flakes are mixed in with the plastic raw material. The mixture is then melted and injected into a mold. But there is a problem: the metal flakes don't disperse randomly and evenly. They tend to line up with the direction of flow during processing, leaving unattractive lines in the finished plastic product.

Fazila, who has a Ph.D. in Chemistry,  was working at GE and there developed a way to encapsulate individual metal flakes in a spherical polymer bead and blend them into the resin matrix. The spheres flow freely in the molten plastic, eliminating the flow lines in the mold and producing a beautiful, uniform sparkly plastic. This technique was awarded US Patent US7470732, enabling GE Plastics to create a new Visualfx product line. (GE has since divested its plastics business, now owned by SABIC.)

Using chemistry to create something beautiful. We like that!