Formulating coatings for industrial applications

January 15, 2016

Choosing the chemical composition of an industrial coating is like solving a puzzle. To put the right pieces in place, you first need to envision the final result.
Some industrial coatings have to protect bridge superstructures from wind, snow and rain. Others will help seal tanks containing volatile chemicals and explosive gases, preventing potentially dangerous corrosion. In some cases, the coating chemistry will need to perform in an underwater environment, such as on offshore oil rig, standing up to salt water for years. And through it all, the coating will need to maintain its visual properties.
How can you develop a coating chemistry that is ideal for each customer? Start with the end result in mind, carefully considering how the final coating chemistry will address performance, application surface and color.

Performance factors
Architectural coatings, above all, need to look good once applied. However, industrial coatings may need to withstand a range of environmental conditions, in addition to the long-term wear resulting from exposure to sunlight and weather. The scope of these external conditions will affect how your chemists develop the coating chemistry.
Asking your customers for specific details about their end-use requirements for a coating, including the location where it will be used, will provide your chemists with critical information as they research, develop and test the product. It’s not enough to know that the customer will use the coating on a bridge or an external storage tank; you need to ask about the specific environmental conditions. Is the bridge located in a region prone to harsh winters, such as the Great Lakes? Will portions of the superstructure be exposed to direct sunlight for large parts of the day? Is the storage tank located in the hot, dry desert of Arizona, or will it exist in the heat and humidity of the Southeast?
By defining which external forces will place performance demands on the applied dried coating, you are better equipped to select colorants, stabilizing agents and/or binding agents that deliver the correct performance.

Application surface
Will the coating be applied to steel, to aluminum or to another type of metal? Will it be applied to concrete? Or does it need to be engineered for multiple surfaces?
The application surface can have a profound impact on how your coating is formulated. For example, outdoor metal surfaces require corrosion protection, so the coating chemistry should include a chemical component to prevent flash rusting – a particularly destructive reaction in which the surface begins to rust soon after the structure is erected, due to moisture condensation. For the same reason, flash-rusting protection is also used in the coating chemistry of marine applications.
The application surface can also reduce the effectiveness of the coating’s adhesion if the coating chemistry isn’t formulated correctly for the substrate. Chemistries that bond well with one type of metal or concrete won’t necessarily bond well with another, and a poor match can lead to peeling, bubbling, flaking and corrosion of the underlying material in a relatively short period of time – in some cases, weeks.

Although industrial coatings are engineered primarily for performance, the color still must meet the customer’s specifications, and the chemistry of the colorant can have a profound impact on the performance of the final coating product.
When working with a colorant supplier, it’s important to include its chemists into the formulation discussion at an early stage. Share as much information as possible about the chemistry of the coating, including where and how your customer will apply it, and the performance factors most important to the customer.
The additives necessary to disperse and stabilize the pigment within a colorant must be carefully selected, so as not to adversely affect the performance of the final coating product. Selecting a colorant with the right type of pigment and chemistry can add to a coating’s durability, lightfastness, surface adhesion and corrosion protection.
Chromaflo has many colorant lines and can help you fashion the right solution for your coating product. But whether you work with us or another colorant supplier, the overarching point still stands – bring your colorant supplier into the discussion with your chemists at the very start of the research and development process for a new product, and share as much information with it as possible.
With the right amount of research, testing and preparation, you can confidently develop and test new industrial coatings products that deliver ideal results for your customers.

Chromaflo Technologies is a leading provider of industrial colorant technologies for the architectural and industrial coatings industries. Contact us at (440) 997-5137 to discuss a coating chemistry for you customers’ requirements.

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