RFP - Rubber Fibres Plastics International

Issue 02 | 2017


The boon and bane of intellectual property

The patent system was originally designed to both recognise and reward inventors and to provide technological information to the general public with the intent to spur innovations.

However, many feel that the patent system has become vulnerable to abuse, changing into the opposite of what was originally intended: patent writing becomes more and more a matter of pure word playing and patents are often filed only for strategic purposes.

To write a strong patent, you nowadays have to be a lawyer, not a scientist. For example, just think about the entirely different meaning of a composition that contains polyol A and polyol B or that is composed of polyol A and polyol B; or of a PU foam that is producible via a special process or that is produced via this process.

In 2015 about 10.6 million patents have been in force worldwide. In the same year the number of filed patent applications was close to 3 million [1], with other words nearly one-third of all patents currently in force. Either the creative potential of today’s inventors is incredibly high or – and that is my experience – patents nowadays contain redundant contents or only marginal improvements.

The fact that during the last years the number of filed patents has been growing at least twice as fast as the expenditures for R&D could be of course explained by an increasing efficiency of R+D, but I hesitate to do so.

Another worrying trend during the last years is the significantly increased number of activities of non-practicing entities (NPE). These companies, also called “patent trolls” or “patent sharks”, acquire whole portfolios of patents with no objective to use the protected technical invention in practice. Instead they use it to sue others on the grounds of patent infringement and thus enforce payment of monetary damages.

It is absolutely legitimate to earn money with patents – after all the inventors should be rewarded for their inventions – but for me it is a big difference if you try to earn money by using the invention and bringing new products and technologies to the market or by just trading intellectual property rights. The only thing that counts today seems to be money, money, money.

To be honest, I don’t have any proposal on what has to be changed to bring our intellectual property system back on course, I just feel extremely uncomfortable when thinking about the future of managing intellectual property and industrial property rights.

I also have no idea what exactly this should tell me as a passionate golfer, but again some surprising numbers: in 2015 about 760 patents were filed dealing with golf balls, 230 of them dealing with the multilayered structure of golf balls. Full of awe about the infinite degree of technical innovation in that little white ball, I should hit my next drive very carefully and if it disappears in the rough (as it usually does) I should search for it forever. But wait! Thinking about what I said before, I prefer to just smash that piece of simple plastic and forget about it.

Wolfgang Friederichs

[1] WIPO statistics database


Challenge and opportunity: competition in the Chinese market – Interview with Martin Schürmann, Managing Director, Klöckner Desma Elastomertechnik

On the occasion of the forthcoming anniversary of Desma Rubber Injection Molding Machinery in Wuxi, China, RFP Rubber Fibres Plastics had the opportunity to have a short interview on the founding of this subsidiary and its economic development with the managing director of Klöckner Desma Elastomertechnik, Martin Schürmann.


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Italian exports of plastics and rubber machinery show recovery

The Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery and moulds manufacturers’ association Assocomaplast announced that it has analysed data from the Italian national institute of statistics Istat on Italian foreign trade in the sector for the first three quarters of 2016, comparing them to the same period in 2015.


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125 years Troester – Made in Germany: Quality – Innovation – Experience

On 4 July 2017 the extrusion specialist Troester will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding in Hanover, Germany. An occasion for RFP to shed light on the history of the medium-sized, owner-led company and to speak with Dr. Peter Schmidt, the managing partner of Troester GmbH & Co. KG, about the company, experiences and expectations, achievements and future plans.


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From India Rubber Expo 2017

From 19 – 21 January 2017 the Indian Rubber Expo (IRE), organised by the All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA), was held in Chennai, India. According to the organisers, the IRE is Asia’s biggest and most important rubber industry trade fair. In fact, 400+ exhibitors from 22 countries and more than 20,000 registered visitors from over 40 countries marked a new milestone for this trade fair and conference meeting.


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Plasma-polymeric coating protects elastomers against wear

Improved energy efficiency and durability are demanded for sealing components in multiple industries. Flat elastomer plates were coated with a polymeric film (SiOxCyHz) in a plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition process. The film thickness was varied from approximately 0.7 µm to 4.0 µm. Tribological lifetime tests were performed as a function of the applied film thickness. The investigated elastomeric substrate materials were acrylic rubber, fluororubber and nitrile butadiene rubber. Oscillating ball-on-plate contact was chosen to induce rapid wear. Significant wear protection was found to depend on applied load and elastomer type. Film thicknesses in the range of 1 µm to 2.5 µm were recommended.


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Silicone elastomers with heat conductivity or flame retardant characteristics

The following article discusses the use of novel compounds of the Tegosil series, which are intended to significantly increase the thermal conductivity of HCR and even LSR based silicone elastomers or – by adding such compounds – improve the flame retardant properties in an easy way. Heat transfer characteristics from hot disk testing are presented and the reduced burning time in the UL 94 evaluation illustrates the improved flame resistance of the resulting elastomer formulations.


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The challenges of accelerated aging techniques for elastomer lifetime predictions – Part 2

Elastomers are often degraded when exposed to air or high humidity for extended time periods (years to decades). Lifetime estimates normally involve extrapolating accelerated aging results made at higher than ambient environments. Several potential problems associated with such studies are reviewed and experimental/theoretical methods to address them are provided. The importance of verifying time-temperature superposition of degradation data is emphasized as evidence that the overall nature of the degradation process remains unchanged versus acceleration temperature. The confounding effects that occur when diffusion-limited oxidation (DLO) contributes under accelerated conditions are described and it is shown that the DLO magnitude can be modeled by measurements or estimates of oxygen permeability coefficients (POx) and oxygen consumption rates (f). POx and f measurements can be influenced by DLO and it is demonstrated how confident values can be derived. Additionally, several experimental profiling techniques that screen for DLO effects are discussed. Values of f taken from high temperature to temperatures approaching ambient can be used to more confidently extrapolate accelerated aging results for air-aged materials and many studies now show that Arrhenius extrapolations bend to lower activation energies as aging temperatures are lowered. Best approaches for accelerated aging extrapolations of humidity-exposed materials are also offered. Part 1 (RFP 1|2017) has covered the time-temperature superposition approach (chapter 2) and diffusion-limited oxidation (DLO) complications (chapter 3). Part 2 discusses O2 consumption measurements to model DLO and test extrapolations (chapter 4) and predicting lifetimes for humidity sensitive elastomers (chapter 5).


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Comparison of blends of devulcanized tire rubber and EPDM with polypropylene

Safe disposal and reuse of waste tires has been and continues to be a significant environmental challenge. Statistics show that the number of waste tires is increasing at a very rapid rate. The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) estimates that about 250 million scrap tires were generated in the USA in 2013 [1]. Scrap tire generation rate has steadily increased along with population in the USA. Since rubber materials do not decompose easily (due to their crosslinked structure and presence of stabilizers), piling up of waste tires is a significant environmental problem. On the other hand, the next biggest scrap rubber produced in the world would be EPDM waste mainly from the booming automotive industry. A novel extrusion reclamation method has been developed that can produce a reclaimed rubber (referred to as devulcanized rubber (DR) from here on) of very high quality [2, 3, 4]. In addition, this method has been proven to be economically viable in contrast to several other reclamation methods and works on various kinds of rubbers. To explore the commercial applications of these devulcanized rubbers, their performance in blends with polypropylene (PP) have been studied, which has been summarized in this paper.


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The effect of plasticizer extraction by jet fuel on a nitrile hose compound

Seven ester plasticizers were evaluated in a reference NBR rubber fuel hose compound with respect to extractability resistance to jet fuel. Plasticizers differed primarily in chemical structure (polarity) and molecular weight (monomeric versus polymeric). Plasticizer addition lead to lower viscosity, maximum torque, modulus, tensile strength and enhanced low temperature properties. Exposure to jet fuel caused plasticizer extraction resulting in compound softening due to absorption of the aromatic components in the fuel. The glass transition temperature shifted towards lower temperatures. Extraction resistance is enhanced by optimizing polymer-plasticizer compatibility and by using a higher molecular weight plasticizer. The use of the polymeric plasticizer A-8600 lowers the loss of other fugitive plasticizers indicating the presence of specific plasticizer-plasticizer interactions. Of the monomeric and polymeric plasticizers, Trioctyl Trimellitate (TOTM) and A-8600 respectively, display the best combination of plasticizing ability and extraction resistance.


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