Tough Talk: Finding Technology Afar

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017

By: Kevin Biller

It’s interesting how we can become provincial in our notion of technology and industrial trends. We tend to focus on our customers and the technology that serves them and seldom take the opportunity to venture beyond our regional borders. Recently I had the privilege to participate in a coatings conference in a distant locale.

In November, I attended the Advanced Coating Technology (ACT) ’16 Conference, a biennial coatings event produced by the Institute for Engineering of Polymer Materials and Dyes—Paint and Plastics Department (Gliwice, Poland). This three-day conference was held at the Expo Silesia in Sosnowiec, Poland, and was presented in both English and Polish. A wide spectrum of topics was covered, spanning bio-based polyester resins to IR reflective pigments to powder coatings for plastic substrates. In all there were 60 papers delivered and an additional 10 topics presented as posters.

A number of papers were germane to powder coating technology. Uwe Kubillus from Allnex Resins spoke about new polyester resins that resist water spotting common with hydroxyl-alkyl amide (HAA) cured powder coatings. HAA cure chemistry is susceptible to this type of staining because water is a byproduct of the reaction of the carboxyl polyester and crosslinker. Crosslink density was found to have the most significant influence on water spotting resistance. Higher functional polyesters (greater acid value) requiring increased levels of HAA outperformed more conventional, lower acid value variants.

Mark Ryan from Shepherd Color Company introduced a new generation of high solar reflectivity black pigment that offers up to 29 percent total solar reflectivity (TSR) with good jetness. High solar reflectivity keeps a coated surface cooler in the sunlight than coated surfaces that use traditional pigments. Frank Maile from Schlenk presented an interesting paper detailing the mechanisms responsible for polychromatic effect pigments. These materials create a rainbow effect with light projected at different angles.

Eugen Beketow from King Industries spoke of an efficient and versatile replacement for tin catalysts (e.g., dibutyl tin dilaurate) based on bismuth carboxylate. The industry has been looking for tin catalyst replacements due to the negative environmental impact caused by tin compounds. K-Kat XK-651 provides excellent hydrolytic stability and catalytic activity in polyol-isocyanate reactions. K-Kat XK-651 has a very benign toxicological profile. Manuela Loch from Merck introduced novel fluorosurfactant technology that is highly effective in reducing surface energy while being significantly better for the environment than traditional fluorosurfactants.

Dawn Skinner from Heraeus Noblelight provided a status report on the emerging LED technology used for UV-curable coatings and inks. Her paper focused on optimizing photoinitiator and formulation components to align with the UV output of LED emitters. This could impact the future of UV-curable powder coating processing.

I presented a paper espousing the use of powder coatings on plastics substrates. I made the distinction between high melt plastics that can be coated with somewhat conventional thermosetting powders and low melt point plastics that require UV-curable powder technology.

Interestingly, a fair amount of powder research is being conducted by Polish universities. Researchers at Rzeszow University of Technology displayed their recent work on blocked isocyanates for hydrophobic polyurethane powder coatings in the poster session. Their work consists of fluorine and silica compounds modified with blocked isocyanates for cure with hydroxyl polyesters. Coatings produced are claimed to have improved surface characteristics (water repellency) and solvent resistance. The same university also presented details of work involving anti-bacterial polyurethane powder coatings based on montmorillonites intercalated with silver ions or aminododecanoic acid. Their work demonstrated the superiority of using silver ions vs. the amino-based cation for anti-bacterial performance.

Overall it was an excellent conference. It was very well organized and the papers were diverse and of high quality. Presenters emanated from a total of 16 countries, and I suspect there were many more countries represented if you consider the delegates (attendees).

On a personal note, this was my first visit to Poland and it gave me the opportunity to meet some fine folks. Afterwards, I took time to visit the Polish village where my grandmother spent her youth before emigrating as a teenager to the United States.

Kevin Biller is technical editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine and president of The Powder Coating Research Group. He can be reached via email at kevinbiller@yahoo.com.