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Ube Industries and Advanced Softmaterials Form Comprehensive Alliance

October 13, 2010

TOKYO, October 13, 2010 _ Ube Industries, Ltd. and Advanced Softmaterials Inc. today announced that they have agreed to form a comprehensive alliance to develop the business for Slide-Ring Material®, an innovative new polymer material made from supramolecular polyrotaxane. The comprehensive alliance encompasses marketing and the planning and development of Slide-Ring Material® products.

The Fine Chemicals Business Unit of the Specialty Chemicals & Products Company of Ube Industries has been conducting joint research with Advanced Softmaterials since 2007, aimed at developing mass manufacturing process for polyrotaxane. The comprehensive alliance between the two companies encompasses cooperation in a broad range of areas to facilitate the development of the Slide-Ring Material® business. These activities include:

Ube Industries develops and supplies a diverse range of advanced materials for growth segments including the electronic components, IT equipment and automotive sectors, building on technology platforms in organic synthesis and polymer design. Moving forward, Ube Industries will capitalize on its marketing strategies and technical development to facilitate the development of practical applications for Slide-Ring Material®, a unique polymer material.
The exact terms of the comprehensive agreement between Ube Industries and Advanced Softmaterials have not been disclosed.

Comment from Shinobu Watanabe, Managing Executive Officer and President of Specialty Chemicals & Products Company, Ube Industries

Ube Industries had the good fortune to come across Slide-Ring Material®, which has a unique construction and offers unique physical properties. Since then, we have worked with Advanced Softmaterials to develop manufacturing process and examine mass production of Slide-Ring Material®, with an eye toward nurturing the new business. The comprehensive alliance that we have agreed to form with Advanced Softmaterials further cements an already strong relationship between our companies, and will contribute to the marketing of Slide-Ring Material® products as well as the development of the market and the product applications. By combining the strengths of our companies, we will be positioned to accommodate the needs of an even wider circle of customers, in aiming to facilitate the development of the Slide-Ring Material® business in earnest.

Comment from Yutaka Hara, President & CEO, Advanced Softmaterials

Since Advanced Softmaterials was founded in 2005, we have sought to develop product applications and develop the business for polymer materials based on Slide-Ring Material® made from supramolecular polyrotaxane. Our biggest obstacle has been achieving mass production of the ingredient polyrotaxane and realizing cost reductions. In that respect, Ube Industries has been a strong partner and we have achieved a certain amount of results through our joint effort to date. The comprehensive alliance between Ube Industries and Advanced Softmaterials will create a presence for Slide-Ring Material® in a broader range of fields, so that we can supply Slide-Ring Material® products to many companies in and outside of Japan.

Slide-Ring Material® is a registered trademark of Advanced Softmaterials Inc.

Reference

Slide-Ring Material®-An Innovative Polymer Material

Polymers are string-shaped macromolecules. Polymer materials are widely used in our everyday lives including as fibers and in clothing, plastics, rubber, everyday products, and foods. A common and widely used method for changing the properties of polymer materials is to chemically bind (cross-link) the string-like polymers to form a polymer network. Polymer cross-linking dates as far back as 1839, when Goodyear developed cross-linked rubber later used in tires, pioneering a technique that is widely employed today.
In 2000, the research laboratory of Professor Kohzo Ito of the Graduate School of Frontier Science, the University of Tokyo, succeeded in synthesizing the world's first Slide-Ring Material® supramolecular network with movable cross-linked ring molecules (Fig. 1). The supramolecular network was formed by cross-linking the ring molecules of polyrotaxanes, necklace-like molecules whose constituent materials are polyethylene glycol and cyclodextrin ring molecules. The basic patent for the network structure was filed through Todai TLO, Ltd. Patents have been granted in the following countries: Japan, United States, China, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Canada.
Slide-Ring Material® is characterized by its unique elasticity, scratch resistance, and biocompatibility, and is a promising material in applications for paints, fine chemicals, and industrial and medical products. Slide-Ring Material® is already being used today in practical applications.1

Figure1.Structure of Slide-Ring Material

Movable Cross-Links that Change the Mechanical Properties of Polymer Materials

Movable cross-links significantly change the mechanical properties of polymer materials. (Fig. 2) illustrates how cross-links are fixed in a conventional polymer material. When tension is externally applied, stress is concentrated on the shortest polymers, causing them to consecutively break and thus, making the material easily damaged.
With Slide-Ring Material®, the cross-linked rings slide along the polymers, so that stress is evenly distributed when tension is applied. The cross-linked molecules act like pulleys to provide a coordinated effect referred to as a "pulley effect." This pulley effect works also when Slide-Ring Material® is combined with other materials.

Figure2.Conventional Cross-Links and Slide-Ring Material Cross-Links
1
Slide-Ring Material ® is already being used today in practical applications, for example in the scratch-resistant paint of a mobile phone released by NEC Corporation in January 2010. The scratch-resistant paint was jointly developed by Advanced Softmaterials, the University of Tokyo and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

About Ube Industries

Established in 1942, Ube Industries today conducts business in six main segments: chemicals and plastics, specialty chemicals and products, pharmaceuticals, cement and construction materials, machinery and metal products, and energy and environment. In the specialty chemicals and products segment, Ube Industries is expanding various cutting edge businesses in the global market, including heat-resistant polyimide resins, lithium-ion rechargeable battery materials, fine chemicals, and aerospace materials.

Company Name Ube Industries, Ltd.
President Michio Takeshita
Location Seavans North Bldg, 1-2-1,Shibaura, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 105-8449, Japan
Website http://www.ube-ind.co.jp/ube/en/
Established March 1942

About Advanced Softmaterials

Advanced Softmaterials was established in 2005 with the aim of developing the business for Slide-Ring Material®. Advanced Softmaterials has exclusive rights to use the basic umbrella patent for Slide-Ring Material® granted from the University of Tokyo and Todai TLO, Ltd., and engages in product design, market development, and development of manufacturing process.

Company Name Advanced Softmaterials Inc.
President Yutaka Hara
Location The University of Tokyo Entrepreneur Plaza 301, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Website http://www.asmi.jp/e/index.shtmlOpen in a new window
Established March 2005

Contact

For inquiries please contact
  • Ube Industries, Ltd.
  • General Affairs & Public Relations Group
  • Seavans North Building, 1-2-1 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8449
  • Phone : +81-3-5419-6110
  • Contact us by Internet.
  • Advanced Softmaterials Inc.
  • President's Office
  • Phone : +81-3-5842-2300