Polymer Molding Materials
Acrylics ((Poly(methyl methacrylate) – PMMA)) (Refractive Index 1.491 @589nm) are available on the market by the trade names Plexiglas®, Acrylite®, Lucite®, and Perspex®. They offer excellent optical clarity, a high strength-to-weight ratio, and good mechanical properties. This optical polymer finds applications in lenses, medical components, sight gauges, light pipes, and light fixtures.
Polystyrene (Refractive Index 1.590 @589nm) is a transparent, rigid, and easy-to-mold thermoplastic. Identified with the trade name STYRON™, polystyrene offers good dimensional stability, processability, attractive light-transmission properties, chemical resistance, and radiation stability. It has applications in diagnostic medical optics components.
Polyetherimide (PEI) (Refractive Index 1.682 @589nm) is an amorphous engineering thermoplastic. It offers exceptional mechanical, thermal, optical, and electrical properties. It has a high glass transition temperature (Tg), making it a good choice for higher-temperature applications. This material can benefit medical, industrial, automotive, and electrical applications. `
Poly-Carbonate (PC) (Refractive Index 1.586 @589nm) offers more strength than plate glass and acrylic plastic. Polycarbonate (Trade name – Lexan) plastics possess impact resistance and transparency. PC internally transmits light almost as effectively as glass. These optical materials find uses in exterior lighting fixtures, medical devices, protective gear, and automotive components.
Methyl-pentene (Refractive Index 1.467 @589nm) (trade name TPX™) is a 4-methyl pentene-1-based olefin copolymer. Despite being a crystalline olefin polymer, it shows transparency. It provides good heat resistance and chemical resistance. It has the lowest density among thermoplastic polymers. It is used in windows for dynamic compression experiments, medical devices, and LED molds.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) (Refractive Index 1.538 @589nm) is an opaque engineering thermoplastic. ABS (trade name Acrylon) consists of three monomers: acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene. With strong resistance to corrosive chemicals and physical impacts, it is very easy to machine and has a low melting temperature. It is suitable to use in injection molding manufacturing processes. ABS has wide applications in auto parts, consumer products, and electronic housing.
Cyclic Olefin Polymers (COPs) (Refractive Index 1.530 @589nm) are a new class of materials offering higher thermal stability and chemical resistance over standard polyolefins. COPs are increasingly popular as a substrate material for microfluidics. They are characterized by high chemical resistance, low water absorption, and good optical transparency in the near UV range. These are commercially available with trade names Apel, Arton, Topas, Zeonex, and Zeonor. Packaging, electronic, diagnostic, and optics applications are ideal for them.
Nylon (Refractive Index 1.535 @589nm) molding compounds offer crystal-clear transparency, excellent wear comfort, high durability, and improved processing capabilities. This unique property profile makes the high-performance polymer a preferred material for high-end lenses and visors.
NAS (Refractive Index 1.533–1.567 @589nm) transparent styrene-acrylic copolymers are strong, stiff, water-clear plastic with excellent thermal stability, better alcohol resistance, and less molded-in stress than acrylic. NAS applications range from medical devices to office accessories.
Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN) (Refractive Index 1.567–1.571 @589nm) resin is a copolymer plastic commonly used in place of polystyrene because it has a better thermal resistance. SAN combines polystyrene’s clarity and rigidity with the hardness, strength, heat, and solvent polyacrylonitrile resistance. It enables applications for automotive parts, battery cases, kitchenware, appliances, furniture, and medical supplies.
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