By Nick Gilbert
Bayer MaterialScience and BAM Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing have developed a new shape memory polymer (SMP), Desmopan DP 2795A SMP, using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).
The new thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) material could prove useful e.g. in product and brand protection applications.
Components made of the innovative plastic can be reshaped and fixed temporarily when heated to a specific temperature, called the switching temperature, the parts remember their original shape and recover to it without any changes. The switching temperature of the innovative SMP is about 40 °C. Other benefits offered by the plastic include excellent chemical, abrasion resistance and flexibility.
Jürgen Hättig from Bayer MaterialScience remarked that the plastic can have applications in several fields ranging from mechanical engineering, sports, leisure, textile and automotive industries to aerospace engineering. The potential applications of the Desmopan DP 2795A SMP include the repair of damaged components using shrink tubing, packaging, self-loosening screws, artificial muscles, remote temperature sensors and hair dryers. The TPU material is also ideal for food contact applications and can be proved useful in brand and product protection applications. BAM has utilized the material to develop labels with colored and engraved quick response (QR) codes. The Desmopan DP 2795A SMP is free from antihydrolysis agents and plasticizers.
Recently, Bayer and BAM submitted a patent application for the use of the new TPU plastic in self-erecting structures and functional film tunnels in agriculture sector. The tunnels speed up the growth of vegetables and lettuces, which allows earlier harvesting compared to the traditional way of maturing them under the open sky. Construction of a permanent tunnel using functional films can be costly and time-consuming, though flat films are laid easily on a field. To overcome the limitation, the novel Desmopan DP 2795A shape memory polymer is used to make temporary profiles in a flat shape, which are attached to the transparent film.