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Styrene-Butadiene Latex

September 1, 2015 08:05 PM

Styrene-Butadiene Latex is the most common type of styrene-butadiene emulsion polymer. It’s different from both its natural counterpart, the latex sap from hevea brasiliensis trees (AKA rubber trees) and from another manufactured compound, styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR).  Natural latex is commonly used in applications like medical gloves, while SBR is used in mass production of tires. As outlined below, styrene-butadiene latex, due to its unique properties, has multiple applications with infinite possibilities for market expansion. Read more about the difference between SB Rubber and SB Latex.

Styrene-butadiene latex differs from SBR due to its greater crosslink density. This attribute gives the styrene-butadiene latex offering more toughness and strength, as well as elasticity, compared to artificial rubber. Styrene-butadiene rubber, for further context, is much stronger than natural latex. SB latex products are much more diverse, since chemists can create dramatically different polymer compositions with different performance results. At Mallard Creek Polymers, our team of polymer chemists routinely create custom products to meet a variety of requirements our customers need in the markets they serve.

History of Styrene-butadiene latex

Looking for new market opportunities for styrene-butadiene after the end of World War II, polymer chemists turned their minds to the world of paints and coatings. With the infusion of styrene-butadiene latex, manufacturers developed the first effective water-based paints and coatings and over time achieved market domination over oil-based and solvent-based products. The new products had little odor, were non-toxic and non-flammable, and cleanup was easy with water. The SB latex helped water-based paints and coatings achieve similar quality to their oil- and solvent-based competitors, with rich colors and durability in a product less harsh on the environment.

Chemists were able to further adapt and refine the emulsion polymerization process to create new uses, new products and new markets for SB latex, in products such as paper coatings, textile backcoatings, and nonwovens. Today, the market for styrene-butadiene latex has proliferated to many more markets such as liquid applied membranes, construction adhesives, and paper and paperboard coatings for the food packaging industry.


Styrene-butadiene latex has many uses. Formulations including SB latex are used as a coating in paper products such as magazines, flyers, catalogues, and paperboard products to achieve high gloss, good printability, and resistance to oil and water. SB Latex enhances a pigment’s binding power, it makes the paper smoother, stiffer, and brighter and it is more water resistant. As an added bonus, SB latex is also much less expensive than alternative coatings.

You’ll also find SB latex as the back coating of textiles like tufted carpets. The backcoating provides water resistance and holds the tufts in place, which improves stability and reduces fraying at the edge. SB latex also has high pigment binding capability and strength, making it the polymer of choice for adhesives in certain industries like flooring.

The diversity of application for styrene-butadiene latex has infinite possibilities, as evidenced by its utility for running tracks, specialty coatings, adhesives, and even nonwoven fabrics.  

Benefits of Styrene-butadiene Latex

The benefits of the copolymerized styrene-butadiene latex are many, including filler acceptance and tensile/elongation balance. The flexibility of this copolymer allows for a near-infinite number of mixtures that result in high water resistance and adhesion to challenging substrates. These qualities of styrene-butadiene latex make this synthetic latex essential to an ever-widening group of markets, including adhesives, paints & coatings, packaging, nonwovens and textiles, paper, and construction.

Styrene-butadiene Products at Mallard Creek Polymers

At Mallard Creek Polymers, we feature a quintet of product families - Rovene®, Tylac®, Tychem®, BarrierPro®, and Tykote® - based on the copolymerization of styrene and butadiene. This copolymerization, based on a growing number of formulas, allows for versatility in our product lineup to address the application needs of multiple markets.

Custom Solutions

At Mallard Creek Polymers, we have the know-how to devise product formulations for virtually any styrene-butadiene application. Our history shows that our product portfolio has not only grown from internal ideation for the marketplace, but also from intense collaborations with a variety of customers for more than 70 years.

Each year, our customers approach us with unmet needs for demanding industries like construction, adhesives, and paints and coatings. Year after year, we’ve expanded our lineup of synthetic latex emulsion polymers, to create products with higher levels of performance and longer projected durability.

Contact us today to learn more about our styrene-butadiene latex product families, as well as custom solution capabilities at Mallard Creek Polymers.

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