GE Plastics Installs High-Temperature Melt Spinning Fiber Line

In keeping with its strategy to penetrate and grow new global markets with advanced materials technologies, GE Plastics has installed a high-temperature melt spinning fiber line from Hills, Inc., at its world-class Polymer Processing Development Center (PPDC) here. The new equipment, which will expand the capabilities of the company’s Global Application Technology (GApT) organization, will be used to evaluate materials and optimize process conditions for making low-denier (2 – 6 dpf) fibers with GE’s high performance, flame-retardant Ultem1 polyetherimide (PEI) resin and other high-temperature resins. By optimizing the melt spinning process using its high-end materials, GE Plastics will be able to offer new options for manufacturers of fabrics and textiles that must comply with strict flame, smoke, and toxicity regulations.

“With the acquisition of specialized equipment for low-denier fibers, GE Plastics is entering a new industry where our materials will play an increasingly important and critical role,” said Rick Pontillo, general manager, Global Application Technology, GE Plastics. “As textile manufacturers face increasingly strict compliance requirements GE Plastics will help provide new fiber solutions featuring inherent flame retardance and excellent resistance to high heat and chemicals. We expect this capital investment to enable us to quickly develop new high performance fiber applications spanning global industry.”

The new melt spinning fiber line at GE Plastics can process resins at up to 450 C, enabling the use of next-generation materials such as GE’s Ultem and Extem1 resin grades. The equipment can produce continuous filaments at speeds up to 1,800 meters per minute, and is capable of in-line drawing of fibers. The melt spinning process involves feeding a polymer into a screw extruder, heating it to the molten state, and extruding it through a spinneret (die) with 144 small orifices. The new equipment at the PPDC can produce both low and high denier (6-10 dpf) fibers and is equipped for co-extrusion, further expanding GE’s processing capabilities. Fibers produced with Ultem and Extem resins are colorable, and can be converted into staple fibers and filaments for use in woven and non-woven applications.

GE Plastics’ Ultem 9011 resin is one major focus of the company’s application development work in the advanced fiber arena. Its outstanding toughness, inherent flame retardance without the use of halogens, and extreme high-temperature performance, make fibers produced with Ultem 9011 resin an excellent choice for a broad range of demanding applications. These include aircraft interiors such as seat covers and vertical walls; home furnishings; high-temperature filtration media; and protective clothing. GE’s Ultem 9011 fiber has already been evaluated in mattress applications and shown to be effective as a barrier to achieve compliance with the provisions of California Technical Bulletin (TB) 603.

The new PPDC fiber line is just one example of how GE Plastics is actively purchasing the latest equipment to accelerate customer application development through technology innovation, engineering, process development advances, and value-added technical support. The PPDC’s process development work encompasses the full range of molding, extrusion, and thermoforming methods, as well as performance testing methodologies and related technologies. Secondary operations support, such as painting and the structural analysis of finished components are also provided.

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