Author Robin Conrad
Polymers are used in many applications in the consumer goods industry. Since the products made from them frequently come into contact with skin and food and are used in hygienic applications, the requirements for these polymers are very high.
Kuraray is a leading supplier of thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that meet many regulatory requirements and are based on styrenic block copolymers. The company offers customers different types of these products, each with individual product properties, including FDA-approved grades. In use, TPEs offer a pleasantly soft feel and high wearing comfort despite their robustness. Kuraray’s TPE raw materials are recyclable, environmental friendly and free of PVC. They have various areas of application in the consumer goods industry and can be used to manufacture numerous produtcs and plastic compounds for everyday use – from toys to toothbrush handles to packaging materials.
Features and benefits
- Softness and comfort
- Made for long lasting products
- Good processability
- Alternative to PVC
- FDA-approved grades
- Good adhesion and cling properties for films
- Food & packaging
- Soft touch components in personal care products
Consumer goods applications
Consumer goods manufacturers can use Kuraray’s TPE materials to significantly improve the durability of their products for optimal product life. The most prominent features of this product range are soft-touch applications, such as in diapers and toys, as well as the improved grip of Kuraray’s materials. The following section presents application examples of Kuraray materials in the consumer goods industry. This can only be a selection as there are many other possible applications, such as cell phone cases.
Do you have any questions about other possible applications of Kuraray materials? If so, please contact us.
Diapers are an important – and sensitive – area of application for polymers. They are designed to ensure not just hygiene but also well-being. What matters most are properties such as comfort, softness, no pressure points or skin irritation, and a stable hold.
Protection and comfort are the most important factors in successful personal care products. With the unique structure of our polymers, it is easy to achieve flexibility and elasticity in personal care applications. These products include disposable hygiene materials, adult incontinence products, personal wipes, and many other products where comfort and performance are crucial.
SEPTON™ 4000-series (SEEPS) is designed to create high-performance elasticity in thermoplastic materials, such as diapers waistbands. For consumers the main advantage is a higher wearing comfort and creep resistance. These distinct properties further lead to downgauging opportunities. Significant material savings compared to other thermoplastic elastomers can be achieved while maintaining mechanical properties.
Anyone who opens a child’s toy box will find toys in it in a wide variety of designs – from toy figures to toy cars. Because babies and young children are a sensitive group requiring special protection, the materials used to manufacture toys are subject to very high safety requirements. The issue of sustainability is also becoming increasingly important. The keyword here is recyclability. TPE materials for this purpose must therefore be selected with particular care.
The materials must also meet other requirements, such as being transparent and/or colorable and soft. 2K moldability with polar plastics is another. For outdoor toys, weather resistance is also an important property.
Food and packaging
Depending on the intended use, different requirements apply to TPE materials. TPEs for closures are required to have low migration, good compression set and good elasticity. Furthermore, products made from them should be sterilizable and PVC-free.
Films can also be easy to process and allow high production speeds. They should also be multilayer-capable so that film properties can be adapted. For many applications, improved softness and improved drop and impact resistance are also required.
Adhesive films for food and packaging should be self-adhesive and have good adhesion properties, but most importantly they should conform with FDA standards.
Kuraray provides polymers that are suitable for dry blending in film extrusion processes. These styrenic block copolymers show maximum softness and elasticity and have excellent compatibility with polyolefins. The main advantage to using SEPTON™ and HYBRAR™ is the ability to obtain film properties that normally cannot be achieved with commodity polyolefin, polyolefin elastomer, or plastomer resins. These enhanced properties include improved retention and impact strength, excellent cling and tack properties as well as excellent clarity. Film softness and elongation can also be tailored to meet specific performance requirements.
For PE and PP (blown film and cast film), SEPTON™ and HYBRAR™ can be added to modify the stretch characteristics and improve cling properties. Compared to conventional materials such as EVA, POE (polyolefin elastomers) and PIB cling-masterbatches, SEPTON™ and HYBRAR™ provide enhanced performance while requiring lower concentrations in the commodity polyolefin based formulation which potentially reduces costs. Selected grades are suitable for food contact applications and comply with major international regulations.
Several grades of KURARITY™ meet FDA and EU Food Contact Requirements. Adding KURARITY™ to PLA film in food packaging increases the flexibility while maintaining excellent transparency. Furthermore, KURARITY™ has good heat-sealing and metal deposition properties.
Soft touch in personal care
Comfort features such as soft touch and a good tactile sensation are important factors for successful personal care products. With the unique structure of our polymers, flexibility and elasticity of personal care applications are easy to achieve. These products include many articles where comfort and performance are crucial, such as toothbrushes and razors with soft touch handles.
SEPTON™ is a styrenic thermoplastic elastomer developed by Kuraray. It is a block copolymer that consists of styrene-based hard-blocks and a diene soft block. SEPTON™ is used in a variety of TPE compounds and can be processed in a wide variety of forms, including soft touch grips. The compatibility of SEPTON™ with non-polar materials allows broad design flexibility. This is critical in the converting and production processes such as over-molding, co-extrusion, and lamination. Other advantages include long service life, the possibility of thin-walled designs, low energy costs during injection molding and a wider range of colors, including bright colors.
The use of polymers allows manufacturers to create a broad range of product properties and to formulate unique cosmetics adapted to their requirements. Kuraray’s styrenic block copolymer SEPTON™ can be used for oil gels as a gelling agent and as a complement to other ingredients. The addition of SEPTON™ can also influence the viscosity of the oil phase of cosmetic products as well as form films to maintain the products’ advantages and thickening.