Technology

7The RIGHT Technology for Product Development

Turn lead into gold!

All you Alchemists: welcome to the world of electron beam processing and crosslinking chemistry!

Well, electrons can’t really turn lead into gold … but every year billions of dollars of specialty products are made using electron beam irradiation. Usually the product is composed of a plastic or polymer material — but certain crystalline materials are enhanced as well.

It’s not alchemy — but it’s close to being “magic”. Fast electrons can reconnect or rearrange atoms in useful ways, and you can build all sorts of remarkable products if you can manipulate nature’s building blocks — atoms.

Successful Product Development works best with a trusted partner and with the right technology. E-BEAM Services offers a confidential, innovation- driven ‘partnership’ that results in customized solutions in the marketplace. We combine experience and comprehensive services with a deep of understanding of each client’s needs to help reduce Product Development time and get your products from bench to market faster.

How does electron beam processing work?

Many polymers will cross-link when bombarded with fast electrons (a form of “ionizing radiation”). The ionized parts of the polymer chain connect with each other forming a three-dimensional matrix with improved properties (impact resistance, abrasion resistance, tensile strength, etc.)

What materials respond well to electrons?

The various versions of polyethylene cross-link readily, often turning the commodity plastic part into a specialty product, and many of the products listed above utilize polyethylene. Some fluoropolymers and PVC compounds also are used in commercial cross-linking applications. Other widely used polymers cross-link best when compounded with a cross-linking promoter, nylon materials being a good example.

Some polymer materials undergo chain scissioning. That turns out to be valuable in the production of Teflon® micro-powders and in other applications.

Some crystal structures undergo valuable changes under electron beam irradiation. Diodes, transistors, and other semiconductor products can be improved; and gemstones such as topaz, rubelita, and diamonds are colored with electron beam irradiation.