Evonik celebrates 40 years of PEBA

In 1979, Evonik launched the thermoplastic elastomer polyether block amide (PEBA) under the brand name Vestamid E from its largest global production site in the Marl Chemical Park. Whether in sports equipment, hydraulic pressure lines in trucks, medical devices or 3D printed high-tech parts, these polyamide 12 elastomers kept finding their way into new demanding applications over the past four decades. Right from the beginning, the polymer has stood out for its excellent low-temperature impact resistance, chemical resistance, high elasticity and good resilience. It was easy to process, dye or over-mold. From the beginning, the TPE offered a uniquely balanced property profile that enabled design-free implementation of demanding applications.

The material of choice for the sports industry

Performance and design are key attributes for the sports industry. The PA 12 elastomer molding compounds of Evonik quickly became the material of choice for items such as athletic shoes, ski, touring and hiking boots or later, decorative protective films for skis and snowboards.

Ski or hiking boots made of PEBA have remained lightweight, waterproof and wear-resistant to this day. They retain their flexibility even in cold conditions. Thanks to its excellent mechanical properties, the high-performance material can efficiently determine the wall thickness of shoes, which allows for optimizing production costs.

“Our PA 12 elastomer is extremely lightweight thanks to its low density. In comparison with other sole materials, this would eliminate about 100 kg of weight for a player to carry around in the sum of his steps during a 90-minute soccer match. That saves energy and increases endurance,” says Klaus Hülsmann, plastics expert in the Consumer Goods market segment of Evonik.

“Our PA 12 elastomer is extremely lightweight thanks to its low density,” says Klaus Hülsmann, plastics expert in the Consumer Goods market segment of Evonik. (Source: Evonik)

PA 12 elastomers for medical technology

Nowadays, flexible polymers that also comply with high quality standards are used, among other applications, in the demanding field of medical technology. Over the years, the experts at Evonik have developed and optimized flexible polyamide 12 elastomers in a wide range of hardnesses for use in medical technology, which were successfully launched under the product name Vestamid Care ME.

PEBA powder for 3D printing

With over 20 years of expertise in additive manufacturing technologies, Evonik is now a global leader in the development and production of customized polymer powders for various 3D printing technologies. The specialty chemicals company has developed the world’s first flexible synthetic material based on polyether block amide for use in 3D printing. The new powder stands out for its high elasticity and strength and is suitable for a variety of powder-based 3D printing technologies.

The company has developed custom-tailored polyamide 12 elastomers for demanding applications for 40 years. The product keeps reinventing itself, be it for new supply formats or through lateral entry into new markets – including a short application stint in the mid-1980s for low-noise gears installed in cassette recorders.

Relying on decades of experience with polymer design and numerous successful customer projects, the Evonik experts keep researching to continuously expand the property profile of the flexible high-performance polymer.

Read the extensive story of Evonik’s high performance material PEBA in the next issue of TPE Magazine!