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Wet-strength additives are an important group of papermaking chemicals used to improve paper quality. Wet strength of paper is a measure of how well the web of fibers holding the paper together can withstand a force of rupture when the paper is wet. Wet strength is routinely expressed as the ratio of wet to dry tensile force at break. Wet strength additives provide strength to the paper when it is wetted. These additives are used in many grades of paper such as sanitary tissues, currency, and packaging applications. Wet strength of the paper also includes the ability to stay intact under humid or wet conditions and wet strength adhesives enable to do so.

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A number of chemical products have been used to impart wet strength to paper, including polymers-base on polyamide epichlorohydrin, polyamine epichlorohydrin, and polyamide-amine epichlorohydrin (PAE). Wet strength additives enhance the end-use performance of tissue and towel, printing and writing papers, and packaging board. These additives allow papermakers to manage the required wet strength characteristics of their products, as well as enable them to develop new and improved paper grades and, in many cases, improve their machine operating efficiency.

The most important area of application for wet-strength additives is in the production of hygiene papers. These include hand towels, serviettes, cleaning cloths, and facial tissue. Wet-strength additives are employed in the production of toilet tissue; however, they are not true wet-strength grades because they disintegrate easily. Packaging paper is another important area of application for wet strength additives. These include paper sacks, carrier bags, milk cartons, deepfreeze packaging, meat wrappers, and fruit trays. Wet-strength additives are also utilized in a variety of specialty papers such as poster paper, labels, overlay paper, wallpaper, abrasive paper, map paper, filter paper, electrical insulating paper, photographic paper, banknote paper, and other grades to retain a certain level of strength when moistened.

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Wet-strength additives are water-soluble polymer products. They have a high level of wet-strength permanence, help improve machine efficiency, and do not adversely affect absorbency of the paper. Wet strength additives work during the curing process, when the functional groups on the polymer react with cellulose fiber to form a covalent bond. The polymer molecules cross-link, forming a network in the cellulose web that provide strength when the paper is wet. Wet-strength products can also reinforce the existing fiber-to-fiber bond, which further enhances the strength of the paper.

The hygiene paper industry is the primary driver for the wet strength additives market for paper industry. Hygiene paper includes facial tissues, toilet tissues, and hand tissues. Demand for hygiene paper is likely to boost the wet strength additives market for paper industry.

Based on geography, the wet strength additives market for paper industry is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East and Africa. North America is the leader of wet additives market for paper industry, followed by Europe. However, the wet additives market for paper industry is anticipated to expand rapidly in emerging economies such as India owing to the change in lifestyle and changing consumer preferences. Moreover, economic development in China has resulted in the increase in the purchasing power of consumers, leading to the rise in demand for the wet strength additives market for paper industry.