The first line of products to be commercialized in North America—Rhoplex Econext 110, 210 and 230 Acrylic Binders—can be used in disposable and re-usable nonwoven applications and are particularly useful in environments that might be formaldehyde sensitive, including hospitals, schools, LEED certified buildings and manufacturing facilities.
Dow introduced this technology platform to address growing demand for the best performance characteristics of the conventional self-crosslinking nonwoven binder technology, but with ultra low levels of formaldehyde. This family of acrylic binders enables customers to meet increasingly stringent industry standards, such as the OEKO-TEX 100 standard for textile raw materials, intermediates and end products. (The OEKO-TEX Association is a third-party certifier that evaluates products used in textile applications.)
“Our breakthrough Rhoplex Econext technology allows companies an opportunity to use this family of binders with the knowledge that they were made with minimal formaldehyde and frequently maintain the same performance characteristics as those traditionally served by formaldehyde-releasing solutions,” says Courtney Fretz, global marketing director for Textile, Nonwovens & Films at The Dow Chemical Company. “With this new technology platform, we continue to expand the range of performance of Dow’s binder solutions for North America that demand nonwoven products with low or ultra-low formaldehyde levels.”
The Rhoplex Econext technology was introduced in Europe under its European trade name Primal Econext at INDEX 11, one of the world’s largest nonwovens trade shows held in Geneva, Switzerland. The technology received an innovation award from EDANA, a major European nonwovens trade association.
Like other nonwovens products from Dow, the Rhoplex Econext technology platform offers excellent wet strength, rapid fluid penetration (or hydrophobicity), and offers customers options to adjust the degree of softness or stiffness for differing applications. Dow has been making low and extremely low formaldehyde binders for textiles and nonwovens since the Rhoplex Econext line of products was first brought to the marketplace a few years ago.
The Rhoplex Econext technology platform builds upon Dow’s earlier successes and well-known experience in acrylic emulsion technology, which stretches back to the 1940s, and the commercial success of water-based, acrylic consumer paints. Dow began working on low formaldehyde formulations for paint binders in the 1990s and was among the first to bring what was then called “formaldehyde-free” binders for the creation of home insulation in 2002, which eliminated all binder related emissions of formaldehyde during its manufacture.
This breakthrough earned a top-10 ranking from the European Environmental Press in 2007, in association with the European Association of Environmental Professionals.