Taking Formulations to the Edge of Performance

Posted by Performance Coatings Team on 04/07/2021

When paint and coating manufacturers are busy developing new coating formulations, it usually takes one of two forms: either new products intended for a general market or customized products designed for a particular end user’s needs. But the goal often requires pushing the envelope to achieve new levels of performance and protection.

A new product is typically designed for a particular market—wood, metal, marine, etc. The design is done with a test profile that’s fairly broad. The result is a new coating that offers broad applicability and good performance characteristics for various end users in that industry.

While a paint manufacturer might start with a broad formula designed for a specific market, once they start to assess it and see how it performs in intended applications based on certain criteria and value for their specific need, they might then begin tailoring the product.

One thing that can usually be counted on is that once a new coating is commercialized and the manufacturer envisions the product being used in a particular way, it winds up being considered in applications different than intended.

The Give and Take of Customization

This deviation leads to customization. The paint manufacturer can provide feedback to a raw material supplier, like Lubrizol, where weaknesses can be addressed and formulations optimized. It’s important to begin with  detailed conversation about what properties are most needed. There is usually some give and take to bring the right balance of properties. This customization of formulations can improve the cost/benefit ratio for meeting specific coating needs.

If there was just one performance property to meet in a formula, things could be very simple. But, that’s never the case. There will always be multiple properties required, which means complexity increases. In fact, there could be 10 to 15 desired properties, so the complexity is exponential. The more properties considered critical to achieving desired performance, the more difficult it becomes in formulating for that. This, by the way, pertains to new and customized products.

An Iterative Process

For customized products, its often a question of balance. Rarely can everything be achieved without sacrificing something. At Lubrizol, we work with coating manufacturers to understand what they value in their niche application and then tailor the formula to meet those needs. It’s a process of iterations—test, modify, test, modify. We keep going until there is a formulation that achieves all the performance attributes the formulator wants while conforming to any process parameter constraints (temperature, shear rates, mass transfer capabilities, etc) they may have.

As an example, Lubrizol has worked with many coating manufacturers over the years to customize formulations. Most recently, feedback around our Aptalon™ polyamide polyurethane technologies led us work on variations. Some formulators have requested opportunities to explore even new performance capabilities – and some new technology variations are already in the works, where we are altering performance slightly to achieve better performance in key areas.If you have application requirements that might require customization, contact Lubrizol. Our technical service department routinely collaborates with formulators to help overcome performance issues with formulation tweaks and testing. Together, we can take formulations to the edge of performance.


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