Density-reducing additives for resin systems enhance consumer appeal and manufacturing productivity.
Expand your freedom of design with lightweight, dimensionally stable composites.
Hollow glass microspheres for lightweight plastic and rubber parts.
More comfortable shoes. More fuel efficient cars. More environmentally sustainable packaging. In all of these ways and more, one tiny product is making a big difference. From sporting goods to sports cars, 3M™ Glass Bubbles are helping plastics processors, OEM manufacturers and end users by enabling plastic and rubber products that are lighter and more dimensionally stable. Made faster. With less waste.
High-strength, low-density 3M glass bubbles are used as lightweighting additives in a wide variety of polymers and applications. These hollow glass microspheres help reduce final part weight while maintaining or improving processing characteristics and physical properties. 3M glass bubbles are engineered to withstand the temperatures and pressures of compounding, injection molding, extrusion and other manufacturing processes. They can be used in a broad range of resin systems, including:
There are hundreds of current and potential applications for 3M glass bubbles, and their advantages go far beyond lightweighting. Their spherical shape and material properties provide a number of unique enhancements to help you meet your weight reduction targets – all while expanding freedom of design.
3M glass bubbles can reduce weight up to 15% or more in many polypropylene systems, and 18% or more in glass fiber-filled polyamide parts, often without requiring significant material, design or process changes. Customers in many industries can benefit from the lower cost of shipping lighter weight parts. Glass bubble-filled plastics can also contribute to environmental sustainability through better fuel economy.
Read the Technical Paper: “Plug-N-Play” Weight Reduction Solution by Hollow Glass Microspheres (PDF, 1.4 MB)
3M glass bubbles help improve dimensional stability, even in large and complex parts. Their spherical shape and low density allows high filler loading, which can help improve part stiffness. They also allow the molten polymer to cool at the same rate across the part, helping prevent sink marks and shrinkage. By reducing shrinkage and warpage, 3M glass bubbles can help manufacturers reduce rejects and reprocessing.
Long cooling times in injection molding and extrusion processes can limit production capacity and increase cost. Low-density 3M glass bubbles displace mass that would normally need to be melted and cooled. The resulting parts cool more quickly: cooling time reductions of up to 15–25% have been reported in production-scale use. That means higher throughput, more efficient processing – and more parts made per hour.
Read the Technical Paper: Productivity Benefits of 3M™ Glass Bubbles in Injection Molded Thermoplastics via Increased Cooling (PDF, 379 KB)
Watch the Video: Reducing Mold Cycle Time with 3M™ Glass Bubbles
Depending on the application, 3M glass bubbles can contribute a variety of additional benefits. They can be used to improve thermal insulation, increase buoyancy and reduce permeability. They impart solar reflective properties, can be used for custom aesthetic effects, and can deliver a Class A paintable surface finish. 3M glass bubbles can also improve the sandability and nailability of polymer/wood composites.
3M glass bubbles are creating a wealth of new opportunities for processors and manufacturers to create customer-pleasing products. The potential applications are boundless: imagine lighter weight shoes and boots, luggage, tools, office or household items.
3M glass bubbles have a low dielectric constant, making them useful for lightweight casings, printed circuit boards and other electronics applications. Some grades of 3M glass bubbles can be used to deliver "pebble finish" texturing on appliances and electronics.
The addition of 3M glass bubbles provides void volume, allowing wood/polymer composites to accept nails and screws more easily – like real wood. Applications include composite decking, decorative molding and more.
Compounds incorporating 3M glass bubbles can be easier to sand, machine and shape. Get sharper corners, cleaner contours and better surface definition – all with less weight. Applications include office chairs, lawn and patio furniture, and more.
Packaging articles made with 3M glass bubbles weigh less, helping reduce shipping costs. 3M glass bubbles also help reduce permeation and can provide antiblock properties. Some plastics made with 3M glass bubbles can be recycled or reground as many as five times with minimal change in properties.
3M glass bubbles allow precise weight control in everything from bowling balls to fishing line. They can also be used to mold compounds with differential weighting, allowing sports equipment manufacturers to fine-tune the balance of racquets, fishing lures or other articles.
3M glass bubbles can be used in a variety of interior and exterior automotive components, reducing vehicle weight and helping manufacturers meet fuel efficiency targets. All while maintaining required stiffness and other physical properties, including the ability to deliver a Class A paintable surface finish.
For application-specific literature, choose one of the Application links above.