Specialty alloy powders for engineered plastics market

17 November 2020

The research and development team at AMETEK Specialty Metal Products (SMP) has taken an interest in the emerging capabilities of plastics. The business has invested a great deal of time and resources into turning its high-alloy and stainless steel powders into ideal additive or filler materials for use in several applications, including detectable plastic compounds for food and pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as next generation engineered plastics for improved functionality and durability. 

Brad Richards, Product Manager for AMETEK SMP Eighty Four, explains further: “Bringing our specially tailored stainless steel powders into the mix as detectable additives for plastics offers numerous advantages. Food and beverage contamination are reduced as plastic pieces that can’t be seen or felt within an item are now easily identifiable on X-ray machines or via magnetic detection. This substantially increases quality for manufacturers by providing critical capability to reduce contaminants and adhere to exacting industry regulations around food and beverage quality, safety, and handling.” 

The U.S. FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and European council regulation EU 10/2011, for example, both require the implementation of controls that prevent plastic contamination of food products. This has led to a host of improved detection technologies with X-ray systems, but also to improvements in the magnetic and X-ray detectability of plastics themselves when compared to food and beverage products. A common application resulting from this legislation is the use of water-atomized stainless steel additives for plastics to substantially increase X-ray contrast and allow for easy plastic detection. 

Metal additives offer numerous advantages for other engineered plastic parts and polymer compounders as well. These include vibration dampening, which results in a composite material with elasticity, density, and vibration attenuation properties that can all be modified across a broad range. Other combinations of our metal additives can also increase electrical conductivity of the overall material, creating an increase in anti-static or even conductive properties in high loadings.

AMETEK SMP produces metal powders from 300 and 400 series stainless steels in a range of fine (~30 µm) and coarse (~100 µm) sizes as additives and fillers for polymer compounds. Custom alloys and sizes can be tailored to a customer’s exact specifications for varying production needs. Four different grades of AMETEK SMP’s stainless steel powders have become prevalent: 316L, 304L, 430L, and 410L alloys. All have been specifically engineered in precise size ranges to blend best with polymer additives. 

Courtesy of AMETEK Specialty Metal Products.