A new "functionalized" polyethylene resin from Dow Chemical offers significant improvements in tuft lock for users and producers of polyurethane-backed artificial turf.

Dow drives tuft lock advances in artificial turf

A new ‘functionalized’ polyethylene resin from the Performance Plastics Division of The Dow Chemical Company offers significant improvements in tuft lock for users and producers of polyurethane-backed artificial turf.

The patent-pending technology has been designed to work as a specialist masterbatch alongside Dow’s linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) resins, which are used by some of the world’s leading yarn manufacturers for latest generation artificial turf pitches.

Swapping 10% of existing LLDPE such as DOWLEX™ Polyethylene Resins for the masterbatch enables a reaction between the polyurethane (PU) coating in a carpet backing and functional groups incorporated in the specialist component, meaning yarn fibers tend to become more firmly secured than they would by using polyethylene alone.

“With sports facilities increasingly turning to artificial turf pitches made with monofilament yarns to enable regular, year-round play, improvements in tuft lock technology are in high demand in order to help sport surfaces withstand considerable wear and tear, particularly in sports such as soccer, football and rugby where studs are constantly being driven into the ground,” explained Dow’s Application Specialist, Peter Sandkuehler.

“Latex backed carpets have traditionally offered good tuft lock performance. Polyurethane alternatives, however, can offer enhanced benefits in terms of environmental and processability advantages in combination with excellent dry and wet tuft lock. In order to fully maximize the benefit from polyurethane backed turf carpets the ‘functionalized’ polyethylene resin allows to overcome the incompatibility between polyurethane and polyethylene, and such further improvements are demanded by leading turf producers,” he continued.

“Now, our new functionalized yarn technology can help producers of artificial turf carpets to take advantage from the lower processing temperatures, reduced emissions and improved line speeds associated with polyurethane backings.” Technical results are already available demonstrating improved tuft lock on a semi-industrial scale.

In Dow’s laboratory tests, peel adhesion between functionalized LLDPE and PU film reached

55N/5cm, compared to only 5N/5cm for unadulterated LLDPE. Tests on tufted and polyurethanebacked carpets showed normalized dry tuft lock of 53N versus 35N for unadulterated LLDPE yarn. UV testing of the samples did not show any negative effect of the functional PE compared to standard LLDPE.

“We’re really excited about this technology development because it will help to meet two very clear industry needs,” added Karin Katzer, market manager for Artificial Turf. “Enhanced tuft lock supports longer term durability which in turn helps keep refurbishment costs down for users of artificial turf. “In addition, we know from our research that the artificial turf industry is looking to reduce the environmental footprint of production processes and end products – offering technology that supports more sustainable materials choices without having to compromise on performance is what Dow is all about.”