From Instant Coffee to High-Tech Powder
From Idea to Global Product
In 1969, WACKER produced 1,490 metric tons of dispersible polymer powders. Ten years earlier its output was just 19 metric tons.
An initial application patent was registered in 1953. However, much more development work was needed to obtain a usable product. After several attempts, so-called spray drying was successful. Here, the dispersion is sprayed into the spray tower as a fine mist; high temperatures then evaporate the liquid component, leaving behind powdery polymer particles. Following on from the laboratory process, a small jet dryer successfully started producing initial quantities of powder at WACKER’s Burghausen plant in 1957.
Customers were quickly won over by the new miracle powder. It boosts durability, tensile adhesive strength on many substrates, and resistance to abrasion, moisture and airborne pollution. What is more, modified mortar can be processed faster and more easily, because dispersible polymer powders optimize such key parameters as non-slump properties and open time (i.e. how long the mortar can be worked).
“Our range is so varied – its innovative potential has by no means been exhausted even after 60 years.”
Head of WACKER’s dispersible polymer powders business
With these advantages, WACKER’s dispersible polymer powder quickly revolutionized the construction industry. Without these binders based on vinyl acetate and ethylene, many modern construction applications, such as EIFS/ETICS, thin-bed mortars and lightweight construction materials, would not be possible at all. The fine white powders also radically changed tile laying, for example. Thanks to dispersible polymer powders in the tile adhesive, nowadays only a very thin layer of mortar is needed, instead of the thick mortar beds in which tiles used to be set. Builders thus achieve higher productivity, coupled with lower error rates and better quality. Furthermore, only one third to half as much material is required with the thin-bed technique, which is kinder on the environment and conserves resources.
Vinyl acetate dispersions in powder form – an idea that revolutionized the construction-material sector worldwide.
Since the 1970s, dispersible polymer powders have been tailored more and more to the specific requirements of customers around the globe. Softer and harder, hydrophobic and hydrophilic, as well as heat- and frost-resistant grades were added to the range. Dispersible polymer powders and additives can also facilitate formulation of cementitious systems such as grout mortars and tile adhesives suited precisely to specific applications – indoors or outdoors, on smooth or uneven surfaces, and for stoneware tiles on plasterboard or porcelain tiles on wood.
To cater to cost-sensitive markets, WACKER has increasingly also been developing all-rounders in recent years, which are suitable for a wide range of dry-mix mortar applications, from cementitious tile adhesives and plasters to self-leveling flooring compounds and EIFS/ETICS.
“We are continuously working on adapting our construction chemicals to suit the industry’s changing requirements,” confirmed Andreas Collignon, head of WACKER’s Construction Polymers business unit. “WACKER’s dispersible polymer powder has revolutionized the construction industry over the past 60 years and will continue to be an important building block – to help conserve valuable resources on the one hand and increase quality and efficiency in construction on the other.”