Mr. Schulze, why is your company researching ways to infuse fragrance into plastics?
Lars Schulze: Fragrance in plastics applications often becomes a hot topic during the Christmas season. Examples include plastic products smelling like cinnamon or oranges. These are mostly temporary effects, which is why two years ago, we decided to address the issue and make scents last longer. We considered the prospects of this type of project and where an implementation might be successful. For the past year and a half, we have been developing fragrances in process technology and are now ready to find project partners.
Which products are candidates for fragrance infusions?
Schulze: There are virtually endless applications in this setting. We can envision fragrances in areas aimed at substituting other raw materials. For example, the automotive industry might want to use the technology to cover up any bad smells from leather or to eliminate shoe odors. You could also infuse a plastic Christmas tree with a pleasant pine scent or use scented plastics in retail to bring attention to specific products. Another exciting application is the integration of fragrance into functional components including switches or trim components.
What special requirements must the end product meet to include fragrances?
Schulze: Our fragrances are available as masterbatches just like our colors. It means customers can dose them normally and add them to the injection molding or extrusion machine for processing. However, I should point out that some polymers and fragrances are not compatible with each other. Initially, we focused on introducing scents to polyolefins and established that thermoplastic elastomers such as TPU are likewise well suited for this process. Having said that, one must always ensure the fragrance does not act as a solvent for the respective material.
Are you already using the masterbatches in applications?
Schulze: With some project partners, we already brought the first projects to fruition and offer them on the market. We are nearing commercialization with several partners, while being in exciting discussions with others. The different stages are due to the compatibility of the fragrances with the corresponding plastics. Customers cannot simply "pick out" one of our fragrances. Our technical center must first analyze whether the respective fragrance is compatible with the corresponding polymer and assess its longevity and expiration.