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Innovation Re-imagined

Nov. 16, 2017

More often than not, product manufacturers launch an offering as they find it will fill a void in the market. Fabrics and textiles under the Sta-Kleen brand, made by The Mitchell Group, are no exception. The initial version of the product, launched in 2010, was one of the first stain-resistant polyurethane upholstery fabrics; any stain (including pen ink, ketchup, wine, coffee, etc.) can simply be wiped off the product. Prior to the introduction of Sta-Kleen, there was virtually nothing that could be done about a stain on polyurethane fabric. “Everyone realized this cleanable product would have a major importance [in the market], particularly on the commercial side: healthcare, hospitality, contract—anywhere you have a lot of heavy traffic,” explained Jim Blesius, director of marketing for The Mitchell Group. “Cleaning the furniture in those spaces [is] crucial.”

While observing the market’s response to Sta-Kleen and keeping up with its success, a particular issue came to light in the healthcare segment, Blesius explained. When cleaning hospital rooms, quite often the wrong methods and solutions are used on furniture upholstery, leading to damaged products. “Hospitals are doing everything they can to kill bacteria within the facilities,” he noted. With the risk of “HAI [healthcare-acquired infections], hospitals are having cleaning crews use very harsh chemical cleaners in an attempt to reduce the number of infectious bacteria. These cleaners are manufactured and engineered for hard surfaces.” To save time and money, hospital cleaning crews use the powerful substances on every surface in a room, including furniture upholstery. Without wiping off cleaners, polyurethane fabric will sometimes break down over time as it is exposed to these harsh chemicals.

With that came the inception of Sta-Kleen Polycarbonate (PC), which was released this month. Mitchell developed the new brand with polycarbonate resin, the strongest of the three polyurethane resins—polycarbonate, polyether, and polyester. All polyurethane-coated fabrics are made from polymer resins; polycarbonate is a polymer composed of organic units joined by urethane links. “Combinations of 100-percent polycarbonate resin with the Sta-Kleen cross-linked stain resistance form a barrier that we believe, and tests [in] the field show, will stand up to chemical cleaners primarily used in healthcare facilities, in addition to other commercial environments to meet cleaning protocol,” Blesius said. 

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