Emerging Scanning Results: Surface Engineered Polymers
PATH Roadmap Applicability:
SICOR is a new process that has made it possible to permanently bond, print, and paint components made from low-cost environmentally friendly polypropylene and other plastics. The concept involves oxidizing the surface of a polymer followed by the deposition of special types of chemicals (such as silanes and others), which form 'chemical connector' molecules on the surface of the originally 'smooth' and chemically inert plastic. Dr. W.S. Gutowski, inventor of the technology at CSIRO, says 'It works like a chemical Velcro'. This breakthrough means that a new generation of components can now be manufactured from polypropylene. SICOR has been developed by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), which was founded by the Australian Government in 1926 to support the country's primary industries. CSIRO has established the spin-off company, Polymer Surface Technology Pty Ltd (PST), to commercialize its breakthrough SICOR bonding technology. SICOR allows the bonding, printing and painting of plastic materials. The plastics group of polyolefins are typically very difficult to bond. Those plastics can be found in many applications and will increasingly be used in skirtings, architraves, flooring and other building products. They are already found in a range of other industries including automotive, piping, packaging and footwear. According to Dr. Gutowski, SICOR has been integrated into the manufacturing plant of a major international building products company.
Application to PATH Roadmaps
Surface engineered polymers could improve the constructability of housing (one of the key strategies in the Whole House roadmap) in that it allows bonding of plastic polymers that typically resist adhesion. It could also mean that polymer based surfaces could be installed that are paintable and more durable than before. It also enables the use of plastic materials in building products that have low environmental impact in the manufacture and are recyclable.
Current Status of Technology
The technology is making inroads into the automotive industry and is beginning to find applications in the residential building industry.
Content updated on 4/14/2003