Based on its recent analysis of the elastic nonwovens market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Kraton Polymers LLC with the 2009 North American Frost & Sullivan Technology Leadership of the Year Award for its on-going measures to lead innovation in the field of styrenic block copolymers (SBCs). Already established as an innovator in this field for over four decades, the company's new family of SBCs, the MD6705, G1643, and MD6717 grades are in a class all by themselves. These new grades are suitable for an array of applications that demand superior quality of softness, breathability, and elasticity.
Over the years, many technologies have been developed in the elastic nonwoven market, which primarily seeks to balance cost and performance. However, most of the conventional procedures do not offer high-processing rates, and they require multiple production steps. Currently, most elastic nonwoven fabrics are made using an expensive lamination process with an elastic film sandwiched between two non-elastic polypropylene spunbond fabrics. This new technology can achieve good elasticity and strength with a single elastic spunbond fabric, thereby eliminating the need to laminate three layers. In addition, the resulting elastic fabrics offer a soft feel, and good drape-ability.
The elastic melt blown grade allows customers, who do not have bicomponent fiber technology, to replace the elastic film in the current laminated constructions. The resulting spunbond-melt blown-spunbond (SMS) laminate could be made in a single step process, which would provide a significant manufacturing cost reduction.
In this context, Kraton Polymers LLC has developed a styrenic block copolymer formulation that is suitable for high-speed processing and retains all of its core properties during the nonwoven process. Of the three grades offered by Kraton, the MD6705 and G1643 are for spunbound applications while the MD6717 grade is suitable for meltblown. The competitive advantage of Kraton Polymer's product lies in the design and optimization of the copolymer to retain its elasticity, while still making it suitable for high-speed processing.
"Key features seen with Kraton Polymer's polymer-based nonwovens are that they are drapeable, non-tacky, and breathable, allowing for products that are soft and discrete," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Christina Priya Dhanuja. "This is in direct correlation with the current nonwoven industry needs that comprise of high-speed processability, breathability, comfort, high elasticity, and non-tackiness."
Kraton Polymer's product design also offers the manufacturers the scope to customize the nonwoven product for different applications. The polymer allows the benefit of altering properties such as the shape of the nonwoven, core sheath ratio and the weight and structure of the nonwovens. The polymer is also highly compatible with polypropylene. This is of value particularly during the making of personal care products, where trimmed waste can be easily recycled. In addition to being in tune with the recycling trend, this feature also offers the benefit of reusability and cost effectiveness to the manufacturer.
"The key processing advantages for Kraton Polymer's product includes high process stability, no requirement of pre-drying, single-step conversion from pellet to fabric, commercial spinning speeds, and no post-processing wait times," says Christina. "The product's wide range of potential applications includes diaper waistbands and ear tabs, training pant side panels, adult incontinence cover sheets, feminine hygiene products, medical devices, food services, automotive, sporting goods, and a variety of other industrial applications."
Kraton Polymers' has seen technology breakthroughs in tie layers, hot melt butyl sealants, isoprene rubber latex, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) alternatives, enhanced rubber segment (ERS) polymers, and newer adhesives. In the future, the company intends to focus on sulfonated Kraton npolymers for ion exchange and high water transport applications, protective films, improved asphalt modification, revolutionary medical applications, and superior fiber applications.
Owing to its innovative properties and an extensive application profile, Kraton Polymer's product is likely to set a prominent benchmark in the industry. With this new development, the company has cemented its position as the leading technology innovator in the SBC industry. For these achievements and the optimization behind the product development that has succeeded in offering advantages both with respect to processing and nonwoven properties, Kraton Polymers is the worthy recipient of the 2009 Frost & Sullivan North America Technology Leadership of the Year Award.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has pioneered the development and introduction of an innovative technology into the market; a technology that has either influence or has the potential to influence several market sectors. This award recognizes a company's successful technology development that is expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. It also recognizes the leadership of the company in the successful promotion of the technology and its continuing impact in technology commercialization.
Frost & Sullivan's Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
About Kraton Polymers LLC
Kraton (kraton.com) is a leading global producer of engineered polymers and, we believe, the world's largest producer of styrenic block copolymers (SBCs), a family of products whose chemistry was pioneered by us over forty years ago. SBCs are highly-engineered thermoplastic elastomers, which enhance the performance of numerous products by delivering a variety of attributes, including greater flexibility, resilience, strength, durability and processability. Kraton polymers are used in a wide range of applications including adhesives, coatings, consumer and personal care products, sealants, lubricants, medical, packaging, automotive, paving, roofing, and footwear products. Kraton has the leading position in nearly all of its core markets and is the only producer of SBCs with global manufacturing capability. Its production facilities are located in the United States, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Brazil and Japan.
About Frost & Sullivan
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