Hidden Heroes: SEKISUI’s Advancell
For lower weight and higher flexibility in everyday products
SEKISUI offers a comprehensive product range in Europe, which is a vast array of innovative high-performance materials for applications in four different business sectors: mobility, electronics, medical & diagnostics, and construction & infrastructure. With the series “Hidden Heroes,” we are taking a closer look at SEKISUI’s portfolio and offer deep but simple insights into the products of the European companies. Today, we will have a look at SEKISUI’s Advancell.
Anyone who tinkered with play dough as a child or uncorked a bottle of wine as an adult may have encountered Advancell products. It could also be part of the laminate flooring in your new home or your car. Advancell can be found in many everyday applications – without being visible.
Advancell is a family of acrylic shells commonly used for foam, adhesive and texture applications. The main product family is Advancell Expandable Microspheres (Advancell EM, in the following Advancell). It consists of tiny plastic spheres containing a low boiling point liquid hydrocarbon in a thermoplastic polymer shell. When heated, the shells soften and at the same time the hydrocarbon inside expands to form microspheres. Mixing Advancell EM with resin as base material gives the material several favourable properties and characteristics, such as lower weight and higher flexibility.
High expandability with complete size control
The expansion capacity of Advancell is more uniform than of a conventional agent of the same type – due to the sharp particle size distribution. This results in a smooth and fine finish. In addition, as it keeps the amount of heat required for expansion constant, and stabilises the expansion start temperature, Advancell allows for easier control of the processing temperature.
This solves challenges in many applications.
In the field of building materials, the product excels with its light weight and wide range of chemical compatibility. Light weight is an important feature as reducing the weight of the final product is often a necessary task to reduce costs and improve handling.
Because Sekisui offers a variety of Advancell grades, the microspheres are compatible with both thermoplastic and thermoset resin like PVC, PP, rubber and epoxy. For example, Advancell products are used in PVC wallpaper and flooring, where the end products benefit from the soft finish and durability provided by the Advancell technology.
Quiet doors, good-looking leather seats: Advancell in vehicles
In the automotive industry, Advancell products are used in combination with a variety of rubber-based materials that are processed at high temperatures. Here, the product is the best choice for lightweight sealant in glass runners and weatherstrips.
Advancell's durability provides comfort: the products are also found in car underbody protection systems – reducing noise in the lower parts of the car body.
In addition, the product provides a solution for spot weld paste seals used in car doors, primarily reducing vibrations in a moving car. The compatibility of Advancell products with a wide variety of base materials enables high-quality synthetic leather for the seat cover as well as for the floor mats.
Advancell pre-products can also be found in everyday consumer goods: Advancell's compatibility with a variety of resins such as PVC, TPE and EVA reduces weight and improves the appearance, comfort, and durability of shoe soles. For synthetic wine corks, it offers benefits such as better density, elasticity, and uniform expansion during injection moulding. Thanks to the large number of usable temperature zones and the strong expansion, Advancell supports the limited heat exposure of thermal paper – which is used for everyday receipt. Even toddlers (or their parents) get their money's worth – in the broadest sense – with Advancell: the product makes it possible to precisely control the density and weight of play dough and is compatible with a wide range of inks to produce a variety of colours.
As it turns out, Advancell products surround us in a wide range of end products where they enable favourable properties such as lighter weight and more flexible application thanks to their expandability and size control. Thus, many consumers benefit from the tiny products.