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An ecological alternative to PVC in fabric

Textiles coated with polyvinyl chloride have lost favour worldwide due to concerns over toxicity and the use of plasticiser chemicals. Recent research has enabled the development of new textiles with similar properties, but without PVC or other harmful toxins.
An ecological alternative to PVC in fabric
PVC in babies' clothing has already been banned in certain countries, and consumers and ecologists alike are pushing for such textiles to be banned outright. Polyolefins (POs) are a class of chemicals that offer an environmentally friendly alternative to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and don't need plasticiser chemicals for flexibility.

The EU-funded DECOCOAT project was established to develop and test PO-coating procedures for threads and textiles. This is possible due to new technology that can produce PO polymers with variable properties.

DECOCOAT sourced a wide range of POs, and selected a few based on desirable compositions and properties. These were characterised in the lab to help researchers understand how they could best be applied to textile manufacture. Additives were also chosen to give colour or add new properties such as fire resistance or electrical conductivity.

Researchers successfully coated both yarn and fabric with various PO mixtures. These were then crafted into demonstrator products such as a sunscreen and a rain jacket, which showed that the new textiles could be thermo-bonded, weaved and sewn similarly to PVC textiles.

DECOCOAT has resulted in know-how, processes and products in the area of PO-coated textiles. One such product is already in commercial development, showing that DECOCOAT results could have a major impact on the textile industry.

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