What is an Acrylic Polymer Emulsion?
When working with water based acrylic polymers, you will surely come across acrylic polymer emulsions. To better understand what exactly an acrylic polymer emulsion is, we should first look at what emulsions are.
What is an Emulsion?
The word “emulsion” is derived from the Latin word meaning “to milk”, as milk is technically an emulsion of fat and water. Emulsions are a mixture of two or more liquids that aren’t normally mixable. Within an emulsion, one liquid, known as the dispersed phase, is dispersed within the other, known as the continuous phase. The two liquids can form different types of emulsions, as in oil-in-water or water-in oil. Some easily identifiable examples of emulsions are vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, and homogenized milk. Emulsions usually do not exhibit a static structure, as they are liquids.
Defining a Polymer
Next, we need to take a look at polymers. A polymer is defined as a large molecule composed of many repeating subunits. Both natural and synthetic polymers are an essential part of everyday life. From familiar synthetic plastics, like polystyrene, to natural biopolymers such as DNA and the proteins that are fundamental building blocks of all biological life on earth. When working with water based acrylic polymers, polymer coatings, and acrylic polymer emulsions, we find ourselves on the synthetic side of the polymer world.
This brings us to acrylics. Acrylic resins are a group of thermoplastic substances derived from acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, and other related compounds. More specifically, polymethyl acrylate is an acrylic resin used in its emulsified form for textile finishes, adhesives, lacquer, and other related products. Acrylic resins offer a huge advantage when used as an ingredient in paint. They are commonly the main ingredient in latex paint (known as “emulsion paint” in the UK). Both interior and exterior paints that have a greater portion of acrylic resin, versus vinyl, provide greater resistance to water, better stain protection, better adhesion, greater resistance to blistering and cracking, and resistance to alkali cleaners. Acrylic resin is considered to be extremely waterproof, making it ideal for application to outdoor appliances and furniture. In its solid form, acrylic resin can last for decades, and will not yellow when exposed to sunlight.
Acrylic polymer emulsions and other water based acrylic polymer products are important tools for the graphic arts and industrial coating industries.