LAS VEGAS — Custom compounder Teknor Apex Co. is joining forces with chemical producer Arkema Inc. to broaden the range of breathable films used as house wraps.
The strategic alliance will combine Arkema's thermoplastic elastomer called Pebax with a bioplastic made by Teknor called Terraloy to allow manufacturers of house wraps to increase their product mix with films that have with various levels of moisture permeability.
Representatives from the Rhode Island-based Teknor Apex and Arkema's North American headquarters in King of Prussia, Pa., introduced the new family of compounds at the International Builders' Show, held Jan. 20-22 in Las Vegas.
“We incorporate Pebax, which is a breathable polymer, with our biopolymer and with further formulation we have enhanced the performance and broadened the range of compound with different permeation characteristics,” said Edwin Tam, the manager of new strategic initiatives for Teknor Apex.
The different grades of the blend are achieved by varying the amount of plant-based Terraloy, which was designed as an alternative to petrochemical-based plastics. The polylactic acid-based biopolymer increases the breathability of Pebax while maintaining its qualities of being lightweight with good adhesion.
House wraps can bring an important element of moisture control to a building envelope by acting as a waterproof barrier while allowing moisture vapor, which can cause mold and mildew, to escape.
Laurent Cartier, business development manager for Pebax and Arkema's other polyamides, said the alliance with Teknor Apex — an existing customer that was buying material from another division — was 3½ years in the making and their work is not done.
“We are working to enhance the properties of Pebax to allow us to go to all the segments of the construction market,” Cartier said. “The value here is a light-weight material that's bio-based and improves performance.”
The house-wrap film compounds are available now. Tam said he is working with customers on sampling and trials.
The strategic alliance could lead to other products for different markets, such as medical gowns, Cartier added.
“There are a lot of needs out there for breathable membranes that can be completely impervious to water, liquids and bloods but can allow moisture to go in and out,” he said. “For the construction market, the main purpose is to help prevent mold and rotting. For a medical gown, it will control the sweat of physicians working under lights that give off heat, which is very important during surgery.”