What’s Cellulose Acetate Butyrate?

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Cellulose acetate butyrate is a versatile, thermoplastic material used in various applications, including automotive trim, tool handles, and plastic films. It is resistant to UV rays, has high impact resistance, and can be produced in transparent or opaque tints and colors. However, it is vulnerable to damage from ketones and alcohols. It replaced highly flammable cellulose nitrate compounds and is derived from cellulose acetate. It is widely used in industry and has been produced since 1865.

Cellulose acetate butyrate is a thermoplastic with many common uses, from automotive trim to tool handles, pens, blister packs and more. Being a thermoplastic, this substance can be melted and reshaped into new shapes without altering its molecular structure. It can be sawn, drilled and drilled. It is a relatively hard plastic that can be produced in transparent form or in a wide variety of translucent or opaque tints and colors.

Other common names for cellulose acetate butyrate are CAB or just butyrate. It is a plastic vulnerable to damage from ketones or alcohols due to its soft and flexible nature, which allows it to be stretched up to 60% of its original length before it breaks. CAB polymers tend to be more expensive than their precursor chemical compound cellulose acetate because additional steps are required to produce it. However, all cellulose acetate butyrate is derived from cellulose acetate, which itself has widespread use as a base for photographic film, a component in glues, and more.

One of the unique characteristics of cellulose acetate butyrate is its resistance to ultraviolet rays, which gives it applications where a high surface gloss is required, such as in the production of lacquers for external surfaces, for lenses and for various forms of plastic films. Since it is formed by the reaction of cellulose esters with acetic acid and butyric acid, this also gives it low moisture absorption and an extremely high level of impact resistance. It is manufactured by such a variety of companies that it has acquired several brand names over the years, including Tenite®, Uvex®, Excelon® and Spartach®.

Although alkalis, acetones in paint strippers, and alcohols can break down the chemical structure of cellulose acetate butyrate, it is otherwise resistant to common household chemicals. The compound’s versatile and inert properties also make it useful for making many types of toys and sporting goods. It is also popular because it replaced common cellulose nitrate compounds, which were known to be highly flammable and degrade more than CAB over time.

Organic esters such as cellulose acetate are considered important in industry due to their wide application in the production of various fibers and plastics. They are commonly prepared in multi-ton quantities and have been produced since 1865. The compounds found their first widespread application during World War I, when they began to replace the highly flammable cellulose nitrate coatings on aircraft wings and bodies . In the late 1980s, the United States and Canada were producing approximately 438,000 tons of cellulose acetate annually; the European Union nations of Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and the United Kingdom about 125,000 tons; and Japan about 112,000 tons of the chemical compound and its derivatives.

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