SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, today launched a new grade of ULTEM™ resin that can assist designers in elevating the styling and aesthetics of consumer electronics components while reducing costs by approximately 25 percent compared to metal. New ULTEM™ DT1820EV resin delivers a smooth, high-gloss finish that provides an exceptional surface for different decorative aesthetics: paint-free color, secondary painting or metallization using physical vapor deposition (PVD). To further improve the appearance, this polyetherimide (PEI) material features excellent surface hardness to help minimize scratches, and high modulus to help avoid PVD layer cracks. Its high flow enables complex, thin-wall geometries that support miniaturization and weight reduction. Potential applications include camera deco rings, smartphone touch panel frames and smartwatch frames.
“The dynamic consumer electronics market is well known for frequent style changes and fierce competition,” said Scott Fisher, business director, ULTEM Resins and Additives, SABIC. “Customers are always looking for new materials that can provide a distinctive, high-quality appearance at a reasonable cost. To address this need, we developed ULTEM DT1820EV resin. It uplevels component design without the high costs of using traditional materials like metal. By adopting the new ULTEM grade using PVD, our customers can achieve stunning aesthetics while benefiting from the practical design and manufacturing advantages of a thermoplastic.”
COLORFUL METALLIZATION WITH PVD
SABIC’s ULTEM DT1820EV resin is well suited for direct sputtering PVD metallization. During sputtering, the material’s high heat resistance and excellent primer-less adhesion to the PVD layer enable faster throughput. In addition, its stiffness and low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) help to avoid cracks in the metallized layer. Using PVD with ULTEM DT1820EV resin yields a brilliant, colorful, and glossy finish that replicates the look of metal while lowering the overall production costs.
Further, PVD is a simpler process than nonconductive vacuum metallization (NCVM), which is typically used for glass-filled polycarbonate (PC) resin. For example, the PVD layer, which determines the color of the part, enables the elimination of three coating steps used in NCVM.
The thick coating that results from NCVM can accumulate along the edges and corners of the part, preventing a clean, sharp line.
Customers that have trialed ULTEM DT1820EV resin in PVD-metallized smartphone camera deco ring are impressed with the excellent metallic appearance compared to glass-filled PC using NCVM.
“Building on ULTEM resin’s 40 years of achievements, SABIC has developed another innovative material solution that combines beautiful aesthetics with practical advantages,” said Meredith Ji, Sr. Scientist, ULTEM Resins and Additives, SABIC. “Our new grade, which is compatible with PVD, offers consumer electronics designers new opportunities to emulate metal. But we didn’t stop there. This new grade delivers key performance properties requested by device makers, including UV and chemical resistance. New ULTEM DT1820EV resin is carrying on our proud tradition of customer-centric innovation. To help customers meet their net-zero goals, ULTEM DT1820EV resin will also be available in an ISCC+ certified renewable version.”
SABIC’s new ULTEM DT1820EV resin is globally available.