Polymer materials such as paper, textiles, plastics, detergents, and photographic materials all have a probability of natural yellowing. This not only affects the appearance of the material, but also the life of the material. Efforts have been made to whiten materials, including the use of various bleaching techniques and the addition of colorants for thousands of years. Optical brighteners are colorless fluorescent dyes that are often used to enhance the appearance of color of fabric and paper, causing a "whitening" effect, making materials look less yellow and by increasing the overall amount of light reflected to the eye.
The properties of optical brighteners make them useful in many fields. For example, the plastics industry, the cotton industry, the detergent industry, and the paper industry.
Optical brighteners improve the whiteness and mask the yellowness of some plastics, and allow the manufacture of brilliant white and colored plastic products. For plastic products, fluorescent brightener 378 is the best optical brightener. In addition, fluorescent brightener 367, 184, 393 and KSN are also common optical brighteners for plastics.
The cotton fabric itself has some yellowish color. In order to increase the whiteness of the cotton fabric, a whitening process is required. Optical brighteners have the ability to whiten and brighten the fabric. Fluorescent brightener 87, ER-I and ER-II are optical brighteners commonly used in the cotton industry.
Optical brighteners are commonly added to laundry detergents to replace whitening agents removed during washing and to make the clothes appear cleaner. The optical brightener commonly used in the detergent industry is fluorescent brightener CBS-X.
Optical brighteners are used in many papers, especially high brightness papers, resulting in their strongly fluorescent appearance under UV illumination. Fluorescent brightener VBL and 220 are optical brighteners commonly used in the paper industry. It is important to note that paper used for banknotes does not contain optical brighteners, so a common method for detecting forged notes is to check for fluorescence.
It should be noted that optical brighteners are subject to some regulation in the process of use. When they are used in materials that come into contact with food, such as plastics and paper packaging, they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. When they are used for other things, such as in the cleaning industry, they are monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency.
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