Noryl: The Best Of Both Worlds

Noryl is a high-performance thermoplastic made from an amorphous blend of either polyphenylene oxide (PPO) or polyphenylene ether (PPE) combined with polystyrene (PS). The development of Noryl dates back to 1966 when General Electric Plastics (now part of SABIC) sought to develop a material that combined the best properties of polyphenylene oxide and polystyrene.

The Noryl family of materials are a rare example of a homogenous mixture of two different polymers. Typically, polymers are incompatible for mixing, and result in separate phases when combined. This unique, compatible combination created a material that takes the best properties of both underlying polymers and exhibits a good balance of mechanical, thermal, chemical, and eletrical insulation properties.

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Properties of Noryl

Mechanical Properties

Noryl is strong and stiff, with tensile strength rated at 9,600 psi, flexural modulus of elasticity at 370,000 psi, and flexural strength at 14,400 psi. These properties make it suitable for structural applications that require durability and resistance to mechanical stress, while its strong impact resistance ensures it can withstand significant energy without fracturing. In addition, Noryl exhibits very low moisture absorption (0.07%), which contributes to maintaining its dimensional stability over time.

Thermal Properties

Noryl’s thermal properties include continuous use temperatures up to 220°F (104°C) and intermittent temperatures up to 284°F (140°C). Its high heat deflection temperature allows Noryl to maintain structural integrity and mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, making it suitable for applications exposed to moderate heat.

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Electrical Properties

Noryl exhibits excellent electrical insulation properties, making it ideal for electrical and electronic applications. It has a high dielectric strength and a low dielectric constant, ensuring reliable performance in high-voltage and high-frequency environments. Noryl’s low dissipation factor contributes to its efficiency as an insulating material. When the high temperature properties of Ultem are not required, Noryl is an excellent lower cost alternative in electrical applications.

Chemical Resistance

Noryl offers good resistance to a variety of chemicals, including acids, bases, and solvents. The material’s low moisture absorption rate further enhances these properties, even in humid environments. However, like most amorphous thermoplastics, Noryl is sensitive to compounds such as gasoline, kerosene, and methylene chloride. Applications requiring resistance to these liquids should seek an alternative material, such as PEEK or HDPE.

Flame Retardancy

Noryl possesses inherent flame-retardant properties, making it suitable for applications requiring compliance with stringent fire safety standards. Its low smoke emission and self-extinguishing characteristics contribute to its safety in environments where fire resistance is critical.

There is a famous story from Noryl’s past that illustrates the value of this property. The orginal Apple II computer had a molded case made of Noryl. One of these computers was left in a room that caught fire and burned down after a cat knocked over a lamp. The case had melted significantly from the flames, but when the motherboard was removed from the case, it still worked.

Noryl apple computer fire
Credit to Vintage Computing & Gaming

Applications of Noryl

Automotive Industry

Noryl is widely used in the automotive industry for various under-the-hood components, such as radiator end tanks, pump housings, and electrical connectors. The material is also used in automotive lighting systems, providing durability and resistance to high temperatures and UV radiation. Noryl’s flame retardancy ensures safety and contributes to the overall reliability of automotive lighting systems.

Electronics and Electrical Industries

Connectors and Insulators

Noryl is used extensively in the electronics and electrical industries for manufacturing connectors, insulators, and other electrical components. Its excellent electrical insulation properties, combined with thermal stability, make it suitable for high-voltage and high-frequency applications.

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Housings and Enclosures

The material is used for housings and enclosures of electronic devices, protecting sensitive components from harsh environmental conditions. Noryl’s previously mentioned flame retardancy and low smoke emission are critical for ensuring the safety of electronic devices in the event of a fire.

A Unique Achievement

Noryl blends are a significant advancement and truly unique achievement in the field of high-performance plastics. As a compatible amorphous blend of two polymers, the material’s combination of mechanical strength, thermal stability, electrical insulation properties, flame retardancy, and chemical resistance make it an indispensable resource for the automotive, electronics, and telecommunications industries.

If your team is working on a project that could benefit from the unique properties of Noryl, reach out to the experts at Piedmont CMG today for help with DFM or to get a quote on manufacturing production parts.

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