The Sweet Smell of Success - Wacker Chemie AG

The Sweet Smell of Success

Laboratory employee Kerstin Zeiler during the tuft bind test at WACKER’s carpet laboratory. This process tests how well the precoat bonds the fibers to the primary backing.

Polymeric binders are a traditional mainstay of the WACKER portfolio. Burghausen chemists were already producing vinyl acetate from acetic acid in 1928. By 1966, researchers had succeeded in combining vinyl acetate with ethylene to produce a copolymer. They created a binder that has now become an integral part of a wide range of applications. VAE dispersions are used in adhesives, low-odor interior paints, and nonwovens. VAE is the core technology at WACKER POLYMERS.

A Step Ahead

When Robert Tangelder, business development manager for WACKER POLYMERS’ dispersion team in Europe, introduced these VAE dispersions for carpet backing applications to Willem van der Meer, Edel Group’s purchasing manager, Willem realized this unique opportunity to start something new. Subsequently, he teamed up with his colleague Dr. Mike de Lange, a doctor in polymer chemistry, who brought in his technical perspective to explore the innovation based on VAE technology. Dr. Mike de Lange was immediately interested when Robert Tangelder showed him thenew VAE binders tailored to European carpet-industry needs. “At that time, Robert and myself had both just read the biography of Steve Jobs,” de Lange relates with a grin. “Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge without overanalyzing things. So, we thought: Why not give it a go?”

As far as de Lange was concerned, the arguments were obvious. For the first time, the VAE binders gave him an alternative to the previously unrivaled styrene-butadiene – an alternative that could be processed using existing equipment, too. “Customers from Scandinavia, a very environmentally conscious market, had often asked me why we couldn’t manage without SB,” explains de Lange. Now he finally saw an opportunity to do so and introduce a totally satisfactory substitute.

The delamination test inspects the adhesion between secondary backing and carpet.

This is also of crucial importance to Edel because the company not only manufactures carpet backings for its own carpets, but because they also toll-produce backings for other carpet manufacturers. The Edel facility conducts precoat and secondary coatings on residential and commercial carpets that use a broad variety of fibers, including polyamide, polyester, polypropylene and wool.