That's how Evonik is ticking
How a high-performance plastic from Evonik makes sports watches virtually indestructible
Japanese technology company CASIO has tested the use of over 40 different plastics for its latest G-SHOCK® digital watches from the MUDMASTER series under particularly harsh conditions. Due to its special combination of properties, TROGAMID® CX from Evonik was the only high-performance plastic to pass the material test with flying colors. Before CASIO’s new MUDMASTER series comes onto the market in July, a team of around 30 plastics experts from Evonik tested it during the "Mud Masters" obstacle run in Weeze on the Lower Rhine in Germany. It had to endure a lot during the mud fight in mid-May.
Mud, sweat, and a broad grin feature in the shots of all “Mud Masters” participants. Since 2012, the event has become a popular meeting place in Western Europe for passionate athletes who want to see what they are still capable of. This is because “Mud Masters” is anything but an ordinary sporting event. “You’re literally being dragged through the muck on site,” said Dirk Heinrich, a sports enthusiast who is also a polymer expert at Evonik. The run, which can be completed in different lengths and can only be mastered with team effort, is a tough one that passes through challenging obstacles that demand top performance from man and material and produce extraordinary emotions.
As exciting as “Mud Masters” may seem, finishing the run is not something one can take for granted. “In addition to endurance, you need general physical fitness and good balance to manage all the obstacles, many of which are quite vague,” explained Heinrich, who has run the entire marathon distance several times in the past, for example from Dortmund to Essen and as far away as Korea. Preparation requires different, sometimes unconventional methods. “I’ve been in the woods before and have jogged on the slagheap while carrying a log weighing 15 kilos on my shoulders.”
High-performance material for use under extreme conditions
The team from Evonik’s High Performance Polymers business line boasted around 30 participants this year. “We are otherwise a colorful group of deep-seated pencil pushers, salesmen who like to travel or engineering nerds who want to be torn out of their everyday working lives,” said Heinrich, who completed the military parkour course in Weeze for the first time five years ago and gradually persuaded his colleagues to come on board. The polymer experts from Evonik mastered the 18-kilometer “ninja” distance as a team. The focus was clearly on the will and the incentive to support in order to ultimately achieve the goal together, in direct contrast to the achievement of individual goals. “Focusing on running time tends to be a habit with die-hard runners,” laughed Heinrich, looking at the dirty digital watch on his left wrist. This was developed by the Japanese technology company CASIO as part of a new MUDMASTER series of the G-SHOCK® watch series for use under particularly harsh conditions. What is special about it is that in its latest product CASIO relies on the transparent high-performance polyamide TROGAMID® CX from Evonik.
“For over three decades, G-SHOCK® has enjoyed fame worldwide as a shock-resistant watch, and millions have already been sold,” said Mr. Hajime Iguchi, Section Manager, Product Engineering at CASIO. “With the new MUDMASTER series we have created a particularly robust UV- and mud-resistant digital watch for extreme conditions.”
The watch has a „Carbon Core Quard“ structure based on TROGAMID® CX. The high-performance material is a permanently transparent high-performance polyamide from Evonik that has been used successfully for years in the sports, leisure, automotive, cosmetics, medical device and optical industries. The plastic offers high UV protection as well as high resistance to mechanical stress or chemical substances.
Material tests passed successfully
The engineers at the Japanese technology company tested forty different plastics in advance. “TROGAMID® CX from Evonik met our most exacting material requirements in terms of mechanical strength combined with a high degree of design freedom in the delicate construction of our products,” Mr. Iguchi said.
CASIO’s new shock-resistant „Carbon Core Quard“ system consists of a lightweight and particularly rigid case as well as a new dust- and mud-resistant structure that protects the modular unit of the new digital watch. The new design and the selection of innovative high-performance materials ultimately led to improved strength and a well thought-out design without having to use button guards, for example.
“Performance and design are essential attributes that the sports industry is constantly seeking from special solution providers like Evonik,” said Dr. Iordanis Savvopoulos, a member of the Evonik team participating in the “Mud Masters” run in Weeze and also head of the Granules & Compounds product line in the High Performance Polymers business line at Evonik. “The better we understand what is important in a customer product, the more specifically we can tailor our high-performance plastics. Participation in this year’s mud fight in Weeze wearing the new CASIO watches was the ultimate practical test for us, which once again confirmed our expertise in polymer design.”
After many painful experiences from the “Mud Masters” run in 2019, the Evonik team is preparing for the next one. “Five years ago I stood here alone. Now 30 of us have come together to form a strong team. I am already looking forward to the upcoming preparatory period. I’m sure I’ll come up with one or two unconventional training methods,” said Heinrich, dressed from head to toe in his mud outfit.
CASIO introduced the transparent polyamide from Evonik as a component material for its G-SHOCK® models in 2012. In contrast to metal, TROGAMID® CX offers low weight, excellent chemical resistance, a high level of transparency for light coloring, and excellent shock resistance. Evonik’s adventure at the Mud Masters began in the same year.
TROGAMID® CX stands for a product family of transparent polyamides that have been used in the optical industry with great success for over 20 years. The high-performance plastic material also offered Evonik's runners crystal-clear transparency, excellent wearing comfort and long durability in the sports glasses worn by the polymer experts during this year's "Mud Musters" in Weeze.