Mortars for the Millions - Wacker Chemie AG

Mortars for the Millions

Global Market Leader for Dispersible Polymer Powders

“We are far and away the world’s number one supplier of dispersible polymer powders,” stresses Dr. Christoph Riemer, head of Construction Polymers business unit at WACKER. “And our current expansion program gives a clear signal that we intend to keep our lead!”

The benefits of the VINNAPAS® dispersions are particularly apparent in modern, porcelain stoneware tiles fired at high temperatures and glass mosaics. “Because of the lack of pores, the mortar does not penetrate as much, and the crystals that form as it hardens are unable to interlock with the tile, which therefore does not grip as well as it might,” explains Klas Sorger, technical service manager for Construction Polymers at WACKER in Burghausen. The binders act like a glue between the mortar matrix and the tile. When the cement in the mortar sets, the polymer particles fuse together, forming so-called resin domains that provide the necessary adhesion.

Practical Powders

By inventing dispersible polymer powders, WACKER changed the face of the construction industry. Until then, mortar had still been mixed manually on site – occasional mixing errors were inevitable. Then the products had to be spread on in thick layers, wasting time and material. VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders enable the production of premixed dry-mix mortars that only need to be mixed with water on site. The binders, which are based on vinyl acetate and ethylene, are produced by spray drying dispersions. And VINNAPAS® offers further benefits providing the mortars with precisely the right technical properties, including improved processability, excellent adhesion to all substrates, reduced material consumption, increased flexibility and better weathering resistance. On site, there is no other way to prepare specialty mortars of this kind which are tailored to modern construction techniques.

But improved adhesion is not the only advantage. Flexibility of the mortar, which is an otherwise naturally brittle material, plays an important role in thin-bed systems: after all, walls and floors are continually being stressed by temperature fluctuations, the building drying out and chemical changes in the material – and the polymer matrix helps them to better accommodate these.

Consumer Demands Rise With Increasing Income

Yet it is not only the excellent properties that favor the use of vinyl acetate-ethylene-based binders in dry-mix mortars. Customers’ wishes also play a role. “Here in Brazil, demand for better materials is growing partly because per capita income is rising,” says Cristiane Fagundes. “Demand for porcelain stoneware tiles, for example, has increased by 20 percent, and you need polymer-modified mortars to lay them properly.” A further challenge in South America is the different regional climates. In Chile and northeastern Brazil, the weather is very dry, whereas in central, tropical regions, it is very warm and humid. And in the south of the continent, it can even be very cold and windy. All this affects the drying time and thus the ease of working with the mortar. “We are therefore devising different recipes for each region so that the material is optimally adapted to local conditions,” says Fagundes.

Regional climatic variations also pose a challenge for Mohammed Sanaobar, a WACKER colleague in Dubai who is responsible for the vast region of the Middle East, ranging from Pakistan to Mauritania in North Africa and the African continent – some 25 countries in total.