PITTSFIELD, Mass./ USA -- May 10, 2007
GE Plastics, in partnership with Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc. (FIT), has commercialized a new fiber technology based on GE's high-performance, flame-retardant Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) resin in the United States. This new fiber is an excellent candidate material for textiles and nonwovens used in aircraft interiors and other applications requiring compliance with strict flame, smoke, and toxicity regulations. Currently, FIT can produce up to 10 million pounds/year of 6-denier per filament yarns and staple fibers from GE's Ultem 9011 resin using a state-of-the-art melt-spinning conversion line especially designed to handle high-temperature resins. Further, the two companies are continuing joint development of smaller-denier fibers (down to 2 dpf) using a similar melt-spinning line recently installed at GE's Polymer Processing Development Center (PPDC) located here.
Brad Willingham, president of FIT, said, "Fiber based on GE's Ultem resin offers our customers a unique value proposition -- including inherent flame retardance and practically limitless dyeing possibilities -- that expands design freedom. Another benefit of this material is familiarity -- it's based on a resin that has been used widely in the transportation industry for many years. Our ongoing partnership with GE Plastics will help customers produce attractive, high-performance woven and non-woven textiles to meet current and future requirements."
One of FIT's customers, JPS Composite Materials Corp., has successfully woven the new filament yarn based on GE's Ultem 9011 resin into a woven fabric. JPS selected the fiber yarn because of its inherent flame, smoke, and toxicity performance and proven track record in the aerospace industry. In addition to aerospace, JPS has targeted several other markets -- transportation, ballistics, and filtration -- for the yarn and is working with a number of end customers.
According to Youssef Fakhreddine, industry manager, Global Marketing for GE Plastics, commercialization of fiber based on Ultem resin is a crucial milestone that opens the door to further optimization of this unique material. "Together with FIT, we have demonstrated that this fiber is now a viable option for textile manufacturers and end customers. This new platform for GE's Ultem resin offers the industry an excellent combination of desirable properties for the most highly regulated and stringent applications. We are now focused on developing smaller deniers to broaden the market potential of fiber based on Ultem resin."
Fibers based on Ultem resin are easily dyed using a broad range of colors, and offer flame retardance without the use of halogens. These properties are an excellent material choice for woven and nonwoven fabrics for aircraft interiors -- including seat covers and vertical walls -- as well as home furnishings, high-temperature filtration media, and protective clothing. Fiber based on Ultem 9011 resin 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.
Additional information on GE's Ultem resin for use as a high performance fiber product can be obtained by contacting Youssef Fakhreddine at GE Plastics via 704-992-4851 or [email protected], or going to the GE Plastics website: www.geplastics.com.
About Fiber Innovation Technology
FIT (www.fitfibers.com) is a world leader in the development and supply of specialty melt-spun staple fibers and filament yarns. Employing advanced bicomponent extrusion technology, varied fiber cross sections, and a wide array of thermoplastic polymers and additives (including those not conventionally used in fibers), FIT was built to engineer into its fiber products the precise properties required by demanding applications, rather than asking its customers to adapt the application to the existing properties of widely available commodity fibers. In addition to working with GE to develop fibers based on Ultem resin, FIT developed new fiber technologies for such new fiber polymers as polylactic acid (PLA), polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), and is building on its foundational competency with conventional fiber polymers such as polyesters, polyamides, and polyolefins, with a development focus on a broad range of high-temperature and high-performance materials.
* Ultem, LNP and Lexan are trademarks of General Electric Company.