News about the bioplastics industry

A bio-fibre designed with Arkema’s Rilsan® Polyamide 11

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Unitika Fiber, a Japanese fibre and textile manufacturer, has developed a special fibre using our high-performance Rilsan® PA11 polyamide, which is made from renewable materials. This fibre, called Castlon, is designed to meet the textile industry’s growing demand for plant-based materials—without compromising on performance.

Rilsan® was used by the textile industry on a large scale 50 years ago, but has since shifted into other applications. Today it looks set to make a comeback. Three years ago, Unitika Fiber, a Japanese fibre and textile manufacturer, began developing synthetic fibres for woven fabrics using Arkema’s Rilsan® Polyamide 11. Thanks to joint R&D efforts between Unitika Fiber and Arkema’s Kyoto Technical Center, scientists were able to develop a new, high-tech thread called Castlon.
Castlon found its first industrial application in March 2009 when it was used in car floor mats. Other applications should soon follow. “Manufacturers of high-performance clothing and sports equipment should be very interested in this fibre” remarks Shigetsugu Kuriiwa, polyamide pellet bio-product applications market manager at Arkema Japan. In October 2009, Unitika Fiber stepped up the development and manufacture of Castlon by opening a new unit at its Okazaki plant, where the group consolidates its production.
“Naturally” competitive
Castlon has been successful because it is lightweight, long-lasting, and resistant to stains and shocks. The fibre has all the characteristics that made Rilsan® Polyamide 11 such a hit in other industries. Moreover, Castlon is a plant-based material, making it “naturally” competitive in a market that is concerned about sustainable development.
Rilsan® Polyamide 11 is made from castor oil, and castor crops—unlike cotton—can be grown without irrigation and in semi-arid climates. In addition, the castor plant does not require intensive use of pesticides, nor does it compete with food crops. Indeed, Unitika Fiber chose the name Castlon as a reference to the fibre’s plant origins. “Unitika Fiber wanted to develop a high-performance fibre made from bioplastics and our Rilsan® PA11 met this need perfectly", explains Shigetsugu Kuriiwa. "Many thanks to the skills of our technical polymer R&D staff, Yoshiyuki Shimonishi, development manager and Sophie Chunn, development engineer for successfully coordinating this effort".

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