“Most times, formulations based on those new raw materials are not cost effective“

The protection of everyday objects as well as industrial or infrastructural goods is one of the main tasks of coatings. We spoke with experts from the coatings industry about trends in protective coatings and the role of new raw materials.

New raw materials are a major topic for the development of protective coatings. However, their usage is not a simple task. “If one raw material needs to be exchanged due to legislative or sustainability issues, most of the time the whole formulation needs to be redesigned, because the chemistry of the new raw material will be different”, says Irmgard Winkels from Sika Germany. This is difficult enough, however, other obstacles can make the process even harder.

New coatings raw materials to expansive

Irmgard Winkels Head of Coating Standards Sika

Irmgard Winkels is Head of Coating Standards at Sika Germany.

New raw materials often offer good or even better performance than incumbent technologies. However, “most times, formulations based on those new raw materials are not cost effective. In part, that is due to the higher costs of the new raw materials themselves, but the other components in the formulation also play a role”, explains Hong Xu from Cardolite. The other components she talks about are solvents that are usually quite cheap. If a new raw material allows you to reduce the solvents contend for environmental reasons you lose a cost-effective ingredient that has to be replaced, often by more expansive fillers. 

A major obstacle is also the testing of the performance of new formulations as Winkels explains: “Due to the fact that protective coatings provide performance for decades, test procedures are extensive and time consuming. Additionally, external certificates and approvals are necessary, which can take further months or even years.” For Hong Xu partnerships between raw materials suppliers and coatings manufacturers is an important way to help justify the cost and time and to develop a new material successfully.

Sustainability for protective coatings

Hong Xu works as a Technical Service Manager at Cardolite.

For both experts, sustainability issues are a driving force for change in protective coatings. “The leading trends we see are the move to lower VOC coatings and the replacement of hazardous materials classified as “substances of high concern”, says Hong Xu. Irmgard Winkels also mentions the increasing amount of renewable raw materials as a way to reduce the carbon footprint. She also adds: “Further aspects will come into our focus, not only life cycle analysis of the product and its raw material, also degradability and recyclability need to be considered.”

Aside from environmental issues some typical topics remain important. “Another trend that continues to influence protective coatings is the need to reduce asset downtime. Suppliers are asked to provide coatings with very fast cure and long pot life”, states Xu. As an example, she mentions reduction of the need for extensive substrate cleaning and preparation as well as coatings that need only one or at least a reduced number of layers. 

 Interview by Jan Gesthuizen

Remark: This is a shortened Article based on an interview in the European Coatings Journal 4/2020. The complete interview as well as the full Journal is available at European Coatings 360°

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