DSM had been trying to break the 200°C barrier for years, says DSM’s Product Developer Willy Sour. “Some internal experts said we should forget it: that we knew enough about polymers to know it would never happen.” The solution, when it came, was found in a very unexpected place. “In searching for ways to avoid oxidation of the polymer, we honed in on a component used in a completely different application in a completely different industry. The idea of using it in polyamides seemed strange, but nevertheless we gave it a try."
Until that point polyamides generally delivered around 1,500 hours of stable performance at 200°C, dropping to 800 hours at 210°C. In contrast, in testing the novel ‘left-field’ combination of materials represented a gigantic leap forward. “We got up to 8,000 hours at 210°C with very limited degradation,” Willy explains. “There was a very unique interaction of physics and chemistry taking place that we’d rarely seen before, in which chemical reactions changed the material property and behavior over time.”