WILMINGTON – Two of DuPont’s recent products were named among the 100 best new scientific advancements and innovations of the past year, earning so-called “Oscars of Innovation.”
The Wilmington-based specialty products company was named to the prestigious R&D 100 Awards list, sponsored by R&D World magazine for the past 56 years.
“Congratulations to the DuPont Finalists and Winners of the 2019 R&D 100 Awards; all of us at DuPont are extremely proud of the innovation and ingenuity your teams contribute every day,” said Alexa Dembek, chief technology and sustainability officer for DuPont, in a statement. “Innovation is a team sport at DuPont, and these awards exemplify DuPont’s culture of outcomes-driven research and willingness to translate cutting-edge thinking into customer impact.”
R&D World recognized DuPont for its Great Stuff Smart Dispenser, an off-the-shelf consumer product, as well as a resin it developed for use in LED housings.
DuPont has long produced its Great Stuff insulating foam sealant, but the application of the versatile product was often unwieldy. Anyone who’s had to seal a plumbing or electrical line, or a new door jamb, can probably attest to the cleanup required after the application of sealing foam from the typical straw applicator.
With DuPont’s new Smart Dispenser top, however, applying the foam is much cleaner and more precise. Consumers are also able to reuse a can of sealant for up to 30 days after opening, which wasn’t possible with the old straw applicator.
“It has always been important to us at DuPont to understand how customers are using our product and have an open dialogue about their feedback. Through these conversations we learned that product waste was one of the biggest concerns of Great Stuff customers, due to the single-use straw-like dispenser that dispenses the foam,” said Dan Schroer, the DuPont research scientist behind the Smart Dispenser. “Home improvers of all experience levels have long praised the product’s performance, making it one of DuPont’s best sellers, but it became clear that the dispenser could be more efficient.”
Schroer said that DuPont set up multiple user studies and customer interviews to evaluate the existing product, finding that moisture mixing with the foam led the straw applicator to clog after one use. Scientists then worked on design changes to try to remedy the problem, creating up to 40 conceptual models at one point.
Finally, DuPont created 3D-printed prototypes of several concepts and brought in test users to inform the team of which they liked best. The result was the Smart Dispenser, which testers said they liked because it sealed the can opening preventing the clogging issue and allowing reuse, while also still feeling like the original product.
“With waste now top of mind in the building and construction industry, it is a priority for DuPont to play a role in reducing product waste and gaining both environmental and cost efficiencies for our customers,” Schroer added.
Meanwhile in its Crastin derivative, DuPont developed a thermally conductive and emissive polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin for heatsink applications. Heatsinks are circuitry components, typically made from aluminum or copper, that draw harmful heat away from another integral components.
The Crastin resin was developed to replace aluminum heatsinks in high-power LED housings in order to make them lighter with a higher heat emissivity. It can also be used in more common heatsink applications, including computer circuitry and in automotive electronics.
In addition to its two award-winning innovations, DuPont had four more recognized as finalists for the list. They include two derivatives of its Hytrel thermoplastic elastomer resin, one of which is capable of ultra-thin wall thicknesses for wires and cables and another which was developed to prevent squeaks in axles and joints under severe circumstances; Zytel fiber-reinforced filaments for 3D printing that are stiffer and stronger than typical filaments; and EKC CuSolve 590, a first-of-its-kind post-etch residue remover used by leading chipmakers in manufacturing semiconductors for advanced 5G-compatible smartphones
and other mobile devices.
Over the past eight years, DuPont has received 13 R&D 100 Awards and been named as a finalist 17 times. The 2019 awards will be presented at a Dec. 5 banquet.