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Sony Develops Flame-retardant Vegetable-based Plastic for the Casing of DVD Player

February 12, 2004
Sony Corporation uses vegetable-based plastics, which are made from biomass resources (*1), for the casings and the packaging materials of products, as part of its effort to contribute to environmental conservation.

Because of flame resistance issues, conventional vegetable-based plastics can be used only for casing. In order to extend the use of vegetable-based plastics, the key was to improve flame retardation. With Mitsubishi Plastic Inc., Sony has developed a flame-retardant vegetable-based plastic with the following features, which will be applied to the casings of a DVD player to be launched in autumn 2004.

A prototype front panel of DVD player made from flame-retardant vegetable-based plastic (*2)


Features;


1) Realize Flame-retardant class of V-2 in UL 94 standard (*3)
V-2 class of flame-retardant has been achieved by identification of appropriate flame-retardant and other materials and compounding ratio of those materials with polylactic acid (*4), a main material for vegetable-based plastic. The development broadens the use of vegetable-base plastics to wider range of products satisfying the V-2 class of flame resistance


2) Using inorganic flame retardant in consideration for the environment
Sony uses inorganic flame retardants instead of brominated retardants such as PBDE, polybrominated diphenylethers, substances that will be prohibited under the RoHS Directive (*5) from July, 2006.


3) Achieved the same strength as ABS resin (*6)
The flame retardant vegetable-based plastics have been improved for performance in such categories as durability, shock resistance, and moldability, which allows the plastics to be used for casings.


4) Developed the vegetable-based plastic molding technique to the same level of efficiency as that of conventional plastic
Conventional vegetable-based plastic goods produced by injection molding concentrate more on crystallizing polylactic acid in the mold to obtain the necessary heat resistance. Arranging compound additives and creating certain conditions during the molding process, Sony established the molding technique that improved the heat resistance at the same cycle as conventional plastic molding. As for the manufacturing facilities, a general injection molding machine works for the technique. In addition, the technique enables vegetable-based plastic without flame retardant to realize crystallization at reasonable cycle.

Sony will actively pursue the development of innovative technologies which contribute to environmental conservation, and endeavor to release products that will have as light an environmental impact as possible.

*1 Biomass resource is a general term that indicates agricultural or marine products including surplus and the untapped natural resources. They are expected to become a resource for the next generation in the fields of energy and raw materials as they are renewable, unlike fossil fuels.
*2 The front panel of DVD player pictured was produced using a mold of the existing model, and thereby is not the new-type model that will be marketed in the fiscal year 2004.
*3 UL 94 refers to the standard established by Underwriters Laboratories Inc, a private organization in the U.S., regarding flame resistance of plastics. V-2 stands for the class of flame retardant, and many kinds of electrical or electronic equipment are required to satisfy this class.
*4 Polylactic acid is made by fermenting corn starch or sugar using lactic acid bacteria and then chemically polymerizing the ingredients. It is biodegradable and gradually decomposes to water and carbon dioxide in the environment.
*5 RoHS Directive is a directive issued by the European parliament and the council of the EU on the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment. The directive will be effective from July, 2006.
*6 ABS resin is a kind of plastic widely used for electrical or electronic equipment.

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