Teknor Apex and Dow Chemical showcased the wares of their bio-based plasticizer collaboration at NPE2012; foot wear in this case with a vinyl sandal that utilized the Equilibrium product. Teknor's Louis Cappucci, VP of the vinyl division, told PlasticsToday that his company signed the agreement with Dow Chemical eight months ago but the two companies have been collaborating on the result, BioVinyl, since 2009.
Dow, for its part, has been working on the plasticizer since 2006, according to Dirk Zinkweg, marketing manager new segments for Dow Electrical & Telecommunications. The Ecolibrium bio-based non-phthalate plasticizer arrives at a time when many clients are hedging their bets on plasticizers, according to Cappucci.
"The last 3, 4, 5 years," Cappucci said, "a lot of customers said we better do something just in case," noting a big ramp up in interest in non-phthalate plasticizers over the last 3-4 years in particular.
Seed oil based and derived from renewable crop products, Dow's answer to the market's growing number of questions was Ecolibrium. Cappucci told PlasticsToday that Teknor has developed 80 new vinyl compounds to test the product, looking at applications in everything from medical, automotive, and wire/cable to industrial.
Testing showed that the Ecolibrium based compounds actually enjoyed some benefits over traditional phthalate compounds, according to Cappucci, including better stability and long-term color hold. In addition to the sandal, the product is also being applied commercially in a vinyl flooring product, with more projects in the works. Cappucci said that from those 80 formulations, the company about a dozen applications in various stages of development.
There are grades available for all processing techniques, including injection molding, profile extrusion, and coating, among others. Cappucci said his company is developing a broader portfolio, including wire/cable compounds, talking to a few companies within that space about its product.
Since the project began, Zinkweg and Cappucci said Dow and Teknor Apex researchers have engaged in weekly conference calls to further development. "We thought it would be a much more arm's length process," Cappucci said, "but it's been a really open collaboration."