According to the firm, its new Extem thermoplastic polyimide (TPI) resin line are a new family of amorphous polymers that give "exceptional thermal, chemical, and mechanical performance in extreme environments" and are said to be the first new engineering thermoplastic polymers in 20 years.
At the same time they "eliminate the drawbacks of semi-crystalline materials and imidized thermosets, which until now have been the only ultra-high-performance plastics on the market," said the firm.
Unlike Extem, the high-end semi-crystalline polymers currently available exhibit poor creep resistance and dimensional stability under load at elevated temperatures, and the semi-crystalline materials are always opaque, reducing design versatility, said GE.
The other high-end plastics on the market are imidized thermosets, which are expensive and have high processing costs, as they must be machined from fully imidized stock shapes or melt processed. In addition they must then be cured for up to two weeks to eliminate brittleness and to enhance physical properties.
On the other hand GE said its Extem resins "offer true thermoplastic melt processability with ultra-high performance as molded to provide more cost effective, ultra-high-performance, and eliminate the need for post-curing."
"The new resins help solve the current polymer challenges and represent a huge leap in cost-performance."
Specific benefits are said to include the ability to withstand high temperatures (continuous use temperatures up to 230C and glass transition temperatures up to 310C) as well as harsh chemical environments, including increased resistance to chlorinated solvents over existing melt processable polyimides available today.
At the same time they remain stiff and dimensionally stable in extreme temperatures, as well as being flame-retardant without the use of halogenated additives that can pose an environmental risk, it is claimed.