Protective coatings: “Sustainability is one of the biggest trends”
What is the current focus of R&D in raw materials for protective coatings?
Jonathan Bird: Our R&D is focused on bringing performance, productivity and sustainable solutions to the protective coatings market. We are focused on high-solids water-borne resins for topcoats and DTM that increase film build and provide long term environmental protection. We are developing water-borne hyperdispersants which do not negatively impact corrosion resistance yet keep corrosion inhibitive pigments and fillers stable for DTM finishes. We are also focused on new high-solids reactive polyamides for solvent-borne polyurethanes and epoxies which improve performance and are inherently 80 % renewable.
How prevalent are water-borne systems in protective coatings?
Bird: While consumers want to make the switch to water-borne systems, technology has not fully enabled them to do so, except for in low-performance general industrial and DTM coatings. Historically, low-solids and low performance have hindered the acceptance of water-borne coatings in the more highly demanding environments which require higher film-build and long-term protection. This is why we are focused on high solids that actually build film and protection and high-performance hyperdispersants that enable longer-term corrosion protection. The only way to make water-borne systems more prevalent is to enable the technology to overcome existing water-borne deficiencies in performance and productivity compared to those of solvent.
What trends do you expect to influence the protective coatings market in the upcoming years?
Bird: Sustainability is one of the biggest trends affecting all of our markets. Protective coatings are not immune to the continuous pressure to lower VOCs and to find renewable and sustainable alternatives to existing materials. I think the time people spent at home over the last few years has affected priorities at work and what people are focused on for the future. In protective coatings, the trends towards high-solids and 100 % finishes, coupled with highly renewable options that don’t sacrifice performance and can actually improve it in the toughest environments, will continue being driving forces in protective coatings over the next few years. Probably the second biggest trend in protective coatings is increases in productivity, especially on the job site. This can include making things easier, simpler, enabling a faster return to service, and anything that can help shorten labour time and reduce mistakes.