Plasticizers are used primarily to make plastics softer and more flexible. Whenever plastics need to have high elasticity and flexibility, plasticizers provide the answer. Plasticizers also help to optimize the processing properties of polymer materials, leading to better product quality. The market for plasticizers is huge and globally amounts to approximately $11 billion annually, with 90% of all production consumed in vinyl-based formulations. Over the years, however, spurred by rising concern about the use of phthalates as plasticizers in vinyl products, much effort and research has gone into developing alternative solutions.
PolyOne (booth # 39006) and Archer Daniels Midland have a pipeline of new bioplasticizer technologies in development, and launch an initial commercial offering called reFlex 100 at NPE2012. This material is a high solvating plasticizer that tests have shown to have significantly better thermal stability, lower plasticizer migration, improved plasticization efficiency and thus excellent potential to replace, in whole or in part, butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) or other high solvating plasticizers. Applications include toys and other consumer goods that need to be non-phthalate, flooring, carpet backing, and other building and construction end uses. reFlex has been produced on a large, commercial scale, and is now available for sampling or sale.