WINONA, MNRTP Co. introduced a 12-item line of polymers loaded with hollow carbon nanotube fibers that are 7,000 times smaller than carbon fibers. According to RTP, the nanotube compounds, or NTCs, provide a more uniform surface resistivity and lower particle generation than its carbon fiber compound cousins.
“We have seen an interest in the semiconductor industry for these compounds for use in manufacturing for the trays, wafer cassettes and boats,” says Scott Koberna, product manager, conductive polymers.
Koberna says the customers he works with are interested in lower particle generation of the NTCs compared to the trays and boats made with carbon-fiber compounds.
“The lower LPCs are what they are really looking for,” says Koberna. “By switching they can see an improvement in their manufacturinghigher yields and lower rejection rates.”
But the relatively high cost of the NTCs mean they are not for every application, Koberna notes. “The difference in cost between NTC and carbon fiber products is roughly the same as the cost difference between carbon black and carbon fiber.”
In addition to its uses in trays in the semiconductor industry, the company also hopes to sell the compounds for use in manufacturing tools, as well. “We think that there is an application for these for things such as tweezer tips and other smaller parts of tools that come into direct contact with the product,” says Barry Nelson, product development engineer for RTP.
The compounds also show advantages over carbon-fiber compounds for injection molding of small parts and components in the disk drive industry. “Because the nanotubes are so much smaller it flows easily through smaller gateways than carbon fiber,” says Nelson, “and that provides the benefits of the compound for much smaller parts.”
For years RTP created specialized compounds using the hollow carbon nanotubes. “We would develop these specially for our clients who were looking to solve problems where carbon fiber compounds just wouldn't work,” says Nelson.
Now, the company says, the launch of the RTC line provides its customers with their choice of such compounds as polyolefins, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyester and polycarbonate/ABS blends. RTP has found immediate application for the compounds in the semiconductor, disk drive and automotive industries.
According to Koberna, the NTCs provide companies with a materials choice for particular areas of their operation. “We are seeing interest only where someone is having a problem with their current product,” he says.