Dickey: In the protective and marine coatings arena,
solventborne and ultra-high solids (UHS) coatings
still dominate the market. They have been formulated to comply with the latest standards for volatile
organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.
Waterborne materials have improved greatly in
performance over the past decade, but still do not
protect as well or perform as long in medium and
severely corrosive environments. In fabrication operations, solventborne and UHS coatings are used
in all aspects, including as corrosion-inhibiting
primers and aesthetic topcoats.
Dinkins: Lead and some of the chromates have
been taken out. Again, the emphasis is on environmental friendliness. In terms of protection, lead was
one of the better corrosion resisters in the market,
and since it’s been removed, we took a few steps
backwards. It’s moved forward somewhat in terms
of better performance because some of the corrosion packages, the resin systems, and the higher-solid coatings have become available.
If you look back to 20 or 30 years ago, many of the
resin companies had to cut their resins with solvent
to make them pourable and usable. Now they have
been able to offer higher-solid resins that offer more
coverage of the surface at a lower viscosity. As a result, companies can offer a higher build of film and
higher-solid paints that are applicable.
Welch: Solventborne coatings are still important.
You can’t beat the film properties. Certain solventborne coatings have been very difficult to replace
with a waterborne coating.
Obviously, powder intruded upon that market,
and to some extent, UV-cured coatings did the same
thing. We have seen an increase in UV-cured coatings because the energy required to cure the product is so much less than the powder, yet you are getting very good film properties, excellent hardness,
and abrasion resistance, for instance.
FAB: What type of emissions levels are allowed, in
general, when applying coatings?
Dickey: In the U.S., rules vary somewhat by state
and even county. In general, the rules that govern
protective and marine coatings in fabrication operations are 340 grams per liter of VOCs. Some areas
have begun to reduce that further to 250 g/l, and in
the Los Angeles area, that target has been moved
down to a challenging 100 g/l.
In most areas of the country, local ordinances and
input do not affect these rules, but at the state level,
the rules are based on federal guidelines.
FAB: Obviously, production cost is always an issue in manufacturing. In what ways have coatings
changed to help fab shops maximize first-pass yield
and boost paint cycle times?
Dickey: Protective coatings producers have been
focused on two approaches. First, we continue to research and develop rapid-curing systems that help
to reduce handling times and increase throughput.
Second, we have been developing high-performance technologies such as EnviroLastic® 940 LV,
a rapid-cure direct-to-metal (DTM) polyaspartic, to
reduce the number of coats and the amount of time
steel spends in the painting process. This coating
has proven to reduce production time by more than
Dinkins: Coatings that are able to deliver long-term
durability probably are the two-part paints: the
epoxies, the urethanes, and the epoxy primers and
urethane topcoats. [Two-part paints are mixed at
the time of application and cure quickly to create a
hard, durable surface.] They are going to be the better products to give you the ultimate finish that you
are looking for.
When you are talking about fabricators, however,
this may not be for them. When you mix Part A and
Part B together for a paint that you plan to use, what
happens at that point is that you have limited pot
life. You can’t put the top back on the paint and put
it back on the shelf. You have to use what you have
It also can be pricey. It could be twice as much as
the regular coatings.
A lot of companies that offer contract painting
services understand the coatings and understand
what they need to do. They are more likely to mix
what they need or use what they have and charge
accordingly as well.
I would tell you this as a coating supplier that supplies metal fabricators, especially the smaller ones,
the change that I have seen over the years is that
folks don’t want to paint themselves, and they are
sending work to a custom coater. There has been a
lot of that.
But I’ve seen a pushback recently from fabricators, because 10 to 15 years ago, they were under the
impression that if they sent it out and had a professional jobber paint the parts, they would pay more
than doing it themselves, but they didn’t have the
hassle to worry about. And they thought they had a
lifetime coating. They have learned since then that
that is not the case. When the coatings fail, because
there was traditionally no primer underneath, you
would have a real mess.
Welch: Everyone wants shorter oven times. Now
that’s not as much of an issue as natural gas prices
are good now, but that won’t always be the case. It’ll
be a major concern again in the future.
FAB: Do you think metal fabricators that have a
painting operation have a good feel for newer coating advancements available to them?
Dickey: I believe it’s up to the coatings manufacturers to educate metal fabricators on what’s changing
in both the coatings and environmental worlds. As
an industry, we have not always done a good job of
educating, and this is something we are working on
to improve and expand.
On the other hand, fabricators are often driven
by the specification they’re handed and are reluctant to push for the adoption of new technologies
by specifiers. We need to improve that side as well.
Dinkins: I would say no, especially not the small
to midsized guys. Their world is built around the
metal. The painting part is the necessary evil. He
doesn’t like to do it. If you don’t like it, you don’t
take the time to research it and learn about it.
There are the exceptions out there. These are the
fabricators that are in their towns for the long haul
and they want their jobs to look pretty good three
years down the road. So they will spend the time to
learn about it and invest in a good paint system.
Welch: I guess I’m not quite sure how to answer
that. But I will say that there is a lot better selection of products than when I started formulating 35
years ago. A lot has changed in my time in the lab.
And it always helps to be one step ahead.
Editor-in-Chief Dan Davis can be reached at dand@
Prime Coatings Co., www.primecoatings.net
Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings, www.
Sumter Coatings Inc., www.sumtercoatings.com
“Solventborne coatings are
still important. You can’t beat
the film properties. Certain
solventborne coatings have
been very difficult to replace
with a waterborne coating.”
—Terry Welch, Prime Coatings Co.