Soft and gentle but still absorbent
Absorbent Thanks to Polyglycol
However, to finish towels, functionalized silicone fluids alone are not enough. This is because they are water-repellent, which makes them unsuitable for towels, in particular, as these are supposed to absorb water when used for drying. That’s why WACKER chemists have attached polyglycol branches to the silicone chain. Polyglycol is hydrophilic, i.e. it absorbs water. “The branches act as wicks that guide the water through the silicone loops to the textile,” reports Dr. Thomas Lehotkay, who is responsible for the technical marketing of the WETSOFT® products at WACKER SILICONES. As a result, the textile is able to rub skin and hair dry thanks to the polyglycol. At the same time, it feels soft and full due to the silicones – although not quite as snug as it would be without polyglycol, because the branches prevent the silicone loops from sliding freely.
With WETSOFT® NE 750, WACKER scientists have now mastered this challenge, too. The solution lay in the development of a so-called block copolymer in which polyglycol and silicone alternate in the molecular chain. Anchor groups attach the polyglycol groups directly to the textile. In this way, the fabric can optimally absorb water. At the same time, the silicone loops are not hindered by rigid “wicks,” but can move freely. So, a WETSOFT® NE 750 finish makes textiles feel soft and cuddly and yet highly absorbent. Even re-dying the material is not a problem.
Easy to Use
WETSOFT® NE 500
Alongside the premium product WETSOFT® NE 750, WACKER also offers a ready-made, emulsified silicone-fluid product – WETSOFT® NE 500. The user only needs to dilute the concentrate by simply stirring it into cold water – this is desired by several formulators. WETSOFT® NE 500 also offers a very good and pleasant soft feel on cotton terry and knitted fabric, but a slightly lower hydrophilicity than WETSOFT® NE 750.
WETSOFT® NE 750 also offers significant advantages for the user. WACKER markets the hydrophilic fabric softener as a water-free concentrate with a high solids content. WETSOFT® NE 750 is self-emulsifying, so that formulators can easily dilute it with water to form a stable emulsion, in a ratio of approximately 1:1 to 1:4 or 1:5. Depending on customer requirements, this provides sufficient flexibility in formulating the end product. Its appearance is reminiscent of the aniseed spirit ouzo or raki diluted with water, which is also an emulsion. The droplet size lies between that of a white macroemulsion and a transparent microemulsion. WETSOFT® NE 750 combines the advantages of both in one product. It makes textiles particularly soft and, even with a longer pile, penetrates to the base of the fabric, which facilitates water absorption and considerably increases the volume that can be absorbed.
By launching WETSOFT® NE 750, WACKER filled a market niche in the summer of 2015. “For the first time, there is a product for the premium segment of high-end textiles that imparts both an outstanding, pleasant soft feel and excellent absorbency,” explains Dr. Ferdinand Pradl, business team head at WACKER SILICONES. It is already pre-formulated and only needs to be diluted with water to form a stable emulsion. So, WETSOFT® NE 750 further expands the broad range of textile auxiliaries – and it certainly won’t be the last innovative product from WACKER that helps the ancient cultural asset of textiles meet 21st century demands.
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