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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

There’s a lot of talk about high solids coatings among industrial coatings professionals these days. But outside of the circle of experts (and sometimes even within it), the concept can be a little fuzzy. Here’s a visual breakdown that hopefully simplifies main principals at work when we refer to high, or even 100 percent, solids coatings.

Click on the graphic to expand.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

US Coatings adds East Coast sales team

US Coatings is excited to announce the addition of a new East Coast sales team to further expand our nationwide industrial coatings sales presence. Patriot Metal Finishing Systems, Inc. will now be carrying products from US Coatings.

The Mooresville, North Carolina-based company specializes in finding metal finishing solutions for a broad customer base across a number of industries.

“It’s really exciting to see our coast-to-coast presence solidified with such a trusted brand,” said US Coatings General Manager Mike Reed. “Being attached to the Patriot name on the East Coast represents massive sales potential for us.”

“We are honored to form a new partnership with US Coatings. Complementing our current liquid paint offering, US Coatings brings to Patriot an exceptional staff, state of the art coating technology & a service lab and team that are second to none in our industry,” said Matthew R. DeVries, President of Patriot Metal Finishing. “We believe this new business relationship will launch both our companies to a new level of sales and recognition in the finishing industry.”

The agreement with Patriot Metal Finishing comes shortly after the opening of a warehouse and industrial tint center in Los Angeles, California. Together, these agreements help to expand the nationwide distribution capabilities of US Coatings through trusted partnerships.

About US Coatings

US Coatings is a St. Louis, Missouri-based industrial coatings supplier. Founded in 2000, US Coatings creates products designed to serve a number of specialty markets and applications and prides itself on superior customer service throughout the course of the job.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Supporting independent sales reps

The privilege of the nimble coatings manufacturer

From the desk of Mike Reed, General Manager at US Coatings

I’ve talked before about the importance of independent sales reps to our operation. I’ve argued that coatings sales reps have entered an age of under appreciation at large coatings companies. They’re often micromanaged, not allowed to unleash the full potential of their professional networks and their compensation often doesn’t represent the true value they bring to their companies.

Higher commissions are one way that coatings manufacturers can address this issue. But that’s not the only strategy, and perhaps not even the most important one when it comes to assisting independent sales reps to be effective salespeople. After all, commissions occur less and less frequently the tougher it is to make the sale. First and foremost, coatings companies need to focus on supporting their reps however they can.

Taking sales support company-wide

Selling industrial coatings is a job that’s easier with a committed support team behind you. At US Coatings, we like to say that everyone in the company fills a sales support function. Sales, along with the quality of our products, are what keep us in business after all. So for us, it only makes sense to throw all of our resources behind the talented people that make sales happen.

Another thing that makes selling easier? Having exactly what the customer wants. That’s simply beyond the capabilities of some massive coatings manufacturers. They have poured time and resources into getting juggernaut product lines moving full steam ahead, and tweaking them to meet a single customer’s needs is the equivalent of turning a freighter around at sea to recover a crewmember’s lost hat. It simply can’t be justified from the standpoint of time and revenue.

More nimble coatings companies can still manage this, though. Custom coatings formulations are still a possibility for customers that would be forced to settle for an off-the-shelf solution with a global coatings giant. Take a customer that requires samples before making a bulk purchase, for example. Those might take a large manufacturer months to ship, if they’re willing to customize a product at all. But a coatings manufacturer who has a designated, small-batch specialist that’s used to working with a sales rep to address unique customer needs, these small orders can be churned out within a matter of days. This leads to happier customers that are more ready to make deals.

When the sales and manufacturing arms of a company are collaborating to isolate product performance factors important to a buyer, to efficiently deliver on customer needs, and to do so quickly and reliably, then sales representatives are empowered by the full weight of the operation they belong to.

Management, it goes without saying, is also a critical source of support. Sales reps need to feel that it’s okay to take their skills to the markets they’re most familiar with and to leverage the contacts they’ve generated over years of experience in sales. Too often, management assigns sales reps to arbitrary territories or product categories that don’t reflect their skills and experience.

This is the level of support that independent coatings sales reps should expect from their organizations. It’s the best way to maximize both sales and the talents that each individual brings to his or her job. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more of a rarity for global coatings giants to provide it. And that may just end up benefiting the rest of us.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Finding a better OEM coating

OEM coatings can affect operations in surprising, sometimes counter-intuitive ways. Sometimes, the proper OEM coating can be the answer for solving common production bottlenecks such as cure times, inefficient production processes and VOC-compliance. Often, the right coatings expert can be instrumental to resolving these issues in unexpected ways.

Finding a winning coatings strategy

Production time is a pain point we encounter with manufacturers and product finishers as diverse as the OEM market itself. How can we produce equipment quicker, so we can pack it, ship it and sell it more quickly? Call us biased, but we think the right coating can play a critical role in making this happen.

Finding a better way

Finding a coating where the drying process can be catalyzed by a chemical reaction, as opposed to air-dry solvent-based coatings, can end up delivering huge returns by slashing cure times. Over the long run, small increases in efficiency from reduced drying times easily trump a higher cost-per-gallon coating by cutting throughput time.

Many such solutions can be recommended to decrease throughput time. Some of them will be unique to each manufacturing operation, and can only be spotted by a careful inspection of facilities and operations. In some cases, for instance, the type of steel used in production can reduce prep time and speed up overall production. If the difference in price between hot and cold-rolled steel is less than can be gained from less prep time, then it may be a smart decision to spend more for the cold-rolled steel. Anti-weld spatter coatings can shave time that would otherwise be spent grinding a steel substrate smooth before a coating is applied. Sometimes, a different coating that requires a commercial blast instead of a near-white blast, but otherwise has similar properties, can end up delivering big returns.

These are just a few examples where a coatings expert may be able to recommend process efficiencies for manufacturers that have relatively little to do with the coatings products themselves. But there are certain other efficiencies that can be gained by the right OEM coating. Faster curing coatings and high solids, low-VOC products are two promising areas of opportunity.

For more on what manufacturers should expect from their coatings, download the OEM’s Guide to Industrial Coatings below.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Paint cure times and OEM Coatings

Production time is a pain point we encounter with manufacturers and product finishers as diverse as the OEM market itself. How can we produce equipment quicker, so we can pack it, ship it and sell it more quickly?

Well, paint cure times play a big part in manufacturing speeds. So whether you’re using a water- or solvent-based OEM coating, it’s important for manufacturers to choose one with cure times designed to meet their needs.

Paint cure times and cost savings for alkyds, urethanes and epoxies

Alkyds

Alkyd coatings are veteran materials in the industrial coatings industry. Though they’ve been around for some time, in some situations, Alkyds may still be the best product for the job. Advancements and hybridizations in alkyd formulas have resurrected these products that were once considered old-fashioned. Alkyd formulations have been modified to be more environmentally friendly, for instance.

The three main draws of Alkyd paints have traditionally been their single-component packaging, relatively low cost and the familiarity with these products among manufacturers who have been using them since they had newly come to market.

Perhaps more importantly though, newer formulations of water-based alkyds show real promise as quick drying, low-VOC products. Certain resins have been proven to speed up the drying process for example, allowing refurbished shipping containers to be stacked only a few hours after they had been coated. This represents a real advancement in the usefulness of an ultra-low VOC alternative to other solvent-based products.

Urethanes and Epoxies

Production is at the mercy of the rate at which the solvent evaporates. This can be a problem when it affects the output of a manufacturing facility. Manufacturers may want to make the switch to a urethane, where paint cure times are drastically reduced, since drying with these products is dependent on a chemical reaction that can be catalyzed from the outside. As productions speeds increase, the increased expenditure on a higher cost-per-gallon product is eventually narrowed until the lower throughput time actually leads to cost savings.

Newer formulations of urethane coatings and epoxy coatings are helping to address inefficiencies. Specific formulations— those that cut the amount of harmful byproducts released into the atmosphere, and reduce the amount of product that’s needed by going farther with less—represent great opportunities for original equipment manufacturers and product finishers to increase production while cutting coatings costs.

These are just a few examples of how the right coating can help manufacturers achieve the results that are important to them. For more on choosing the right OEM coatings, download our guide through the link below.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

US Coatings opens warehouse, industrial tint center in Los Angeles, California

In order to better serve Southern California and the surrounding Southwestern United States, US Coatings recently opened a warehouse and industrial tint center in Los Angeles, California. In addition to increased stocking and distribution capabilities, the industrial tint center will provide locally available color matching for US Coatings products.

The facility will expand US Coatings’ presence and capabilities on the West Coast following agreements with new distributors and other customers in the area.

“From a strategic and logistical standpoint, we’re really happy about this new facility and what it will allow us to do,” said US Coatings General Manager Mike Reed. “Southern California and the rest of the Southwestern United States are extremely important operational areas for us and this new facility will expand our capacity there.

In addition to the warehouse, US Coatings has partnered with Premier Surfaces, Inc. to expand sales capabilities in the area. A network of independent salespeople with years of experience and a traditional focus on the Southwest will now be offering US Coatings products to their customers.

US Coatings is a St. Louis, Missouri-based industrial coatings supplier. Founded in 2000, US Coatings creates products designed to serve a number of specialty markets and applications and prides itself on superior customer service throughout the course of the job.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Corrosion Resistant Coatings

A number of factors go into designing a successful corrosion prevention program. Choosing the right corrosion resistant coating is only one of them. Another, which will determine the longevity of a corrosion prevention system, is maintenance. When the right industrial coating is chosen, and maintained, corrosion can successfully be stopped from damaging your asset. Corrosion services should be catered to your specific needs.

Selecting a Corrosion Resistant Coating

Sacrificial and barrier coatings have been engineered to excel in specialized circumstances and to respond to a number of very specific environmental pressures. A project’s specification sheet should address any special circumstances surrounding an asset, including any extreme pressures it should expect to encounter and whether or not a corrosion resistant coating will need to account for.

Here’s where it may not be a bad idea to enlist the services of a NACE-certified coatings inspector to view an asset before it’s coated. This will help to determine what properties will be required from a coating, such as whether a highly corrosive environment will necessitate a urethane topcoat rather than an alkyd, for instance. The number of possible environmental stresses, and the coatings that could stand up to them, are numerous. That’s why it’s often a good idea to have a professional inspection before selecting a coating.

Once a generic coating type has been selected, it’s important to consider where the product comes from. Many manufacturers will cut corners on the way to producing what many qualify as an “epoxy primer” or a “polyurethane finish”. Inferior resins and cheap fillers and extenders are shortcuts that can yield a less expensive product at the expense of performance.

Having your asset examined by a coatings specialist beforehand will also help with that all-important second step in keeping corrosion at bay: a well thought out maintenance plan.

Coatings maintenance

The worst possible time to discover your corrosion prevention system has let you down is when an asset fails. And protection from corrosion is, unfortunately, not a one-and-done process. The elements degrade. Chemicals erode. Moisture seeps in. These are realities as certain as death and taxes. But, with a coatings maintenance plan in place, regular wear over time needn’t be a significant setback.

A little spot coating as a part of a regular coatings maintenance plan can prevent the spread of localized corrosion and keep the need for a full-blown recoat years in the future.

And that’s not the most significant reason for having a maintenance plan in place. A full-scale failure as a result of damage caused by corrosion could be catastrophic. Leaking chemical pipelines and unsound structural steel threaten lives as well as financial stability. We’ve seen already how much corrosion costs the economy, and regular coating’s maintenance is a one of the best fundamental strategies we have for bringing those expenditures down. When corrosion is allowed to proceed to the point of taking an asset out of commission, that’s corrosion at its most expensive, not to mention its most dangerous.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Corrosion Services: Preventing Corrosion

We’ve discovered more than a few effective methods for protecting steel from corrosion. Some methods have been in use for longer than others, some are better for the environment than others, and all of them entail certain tradeoffs as far as performance, price and material properties are concerned.

The corrosion services you receive need to reflect the conditions your assets endure. Environmental factors such as acid rain, humidity, chemical salts, oxygen and high temperatures are all factors that can affect the pace of corrosion. It’s best to control for these factors where possible, but this is often impractical or downright impossible. For more reliable methods of corrosion prevention, more active solutions are called for.

While many methods of corrosion prevention have been tested out over the years, a couple of them have emerged as among the most effective. Corrosion resistant coatings are among the most reliable and cost-effective methods for fighting corrosion. For reasons of chemistry, coating structural steel in gold would probably be fairly effective in protecting it from corrosion. But for more obvious reasons, this is not a widely used method of corrosion control.

Within the realm of protective coatings, a few strategies have emerged as particularly effective corrosion services. It’s no coincidence that two of them, barrier and sacrificial coatings, are among the coating services that we specialize in.

Here’s a top-level breakdown of the strategies most of our products use to battle corrosion:

Sacrificial coatings

Sacrificial coatings tend to make excellent primers. These unselfish coatings usually take the form of an extremely thin layer of metal, such as zinc or nickel, which is known to corrode preferentially to steel. These coatings are applied directly to a ferrous metal, usually steel, in order to steer the corrosion process in a direction that is ultimately not harmful to the asset by “donating” an electron to the substrate to make its charge unfriendly to the corrosion process.

Zinc primers are excellent examples of sacrificial coatings. Though they’re meant to corrode preferentially to the asset, the rate at which they succumb to corrosion is slower than many other sacrificial coatings, leading to longer intervals before a recoat is necessary.

When combined with a topcoat system that offers excellent barrier properties, sacrificial primers form part of a system with proven success in fighting corrosion.

Barrier coatings

Barrier coatings are probably the products that come to mind when most people think of industrial coatings. These are the products in charge of keeping oxygen and moisture from a substrate and protecting it from harmful chemicals, including soluble salts.

According to NACE, the following are the most important properties for a barrier coating. A coating should:

  • Be able to protect from the surrounding chemical environment
  • Be able to resist moisture
  • Be able to resist vibration and minor impacts
  • Exhibit strong adhesion properties even in moist conditions
  • Exhibit strong wetting properties for a smooth, even film build

Different environments stress barrier coatings in different ways. In areas experiencing prolonged exposure to sunlight, a high UV-resistant coating will be a priority. In marine environments, a coating’s ability to protect against soluble salts and their corrosive effects will be especially important. In chemical factories and other processing facilities, where harsh and reactive materials are an everyday reality, good chemical resistance will be a necessary property.

Given the wide array of elements barrier coatings must protect against, it’s a good thing they’re not working alone. When combined with a sacrificial primer, and sometimes an intermediate barrier coating, a good barrier coating is part of a system that effectively fights corrosion.

But it’s important to know exactly which system is called for given an asset’s environmental circumstances. That’s why we offer on-site surveys as part of our corrosion services.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

Common Types of Corrosion

The nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, and the lack of funding it receives, is making headlines on a daily basis these days. While there are many causes for collapsed bridges, potholed highways and inefficient railway networks, one natural phenomenon stands out as a threat to nearly every sector that falls under the umbrella of “America’s transportation infrastructure problem.” The National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE) estimates that corrosion costs the U.S. economy $276 billion annually.

More than just something unpleasant to look at, corrosion represents a serious drag on the economy and a danger to human health and safety. It is a natural, albeit preventable, process that’s spawned an entire industry dedicated to battling it. Corrosion services have become an important part of maintaining steel and iron assets.

Broadly, corrosion is defined as the naturally occurring degradation of a surface (usually a metal), when exposed to the atmosphere. A more relevant definition for our purposes concerns what happens to iron, a major component of steel and the most commonly used alloy in infrastructure, when it is exposed to the elements.

When iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture, an electrochemical process known as oxidation occurs. Oxidation results in iron oxide, or rust, forming on the metal’s surface and corrosion begins to set in. As long as steel remains an integral component in the makeup of the country’s transportation infrastructure, corrosion is not a problem that will disappear anytime soon. 

Generalized Corrosion and Localized Corrosion

The many types of corrosion that can affect an asset add to the difficulty of protecting against it. Generally speaking, there are two, broad categories of corrosion: generalized and localized. As their names suggest, generalized corrosion attacks the entire surface area of an asset, while localized corrosion is limited to certain, often irregularly shaped, areas of a particular asset.

Because generalized corrosion is predictable, treatable and fairly easy to detect, it’s often seen as the less dangerous of the two types, assuming prevention methods are in place initially. Localized corrosion, on the other hand, can be more difficult to detect and is more likely to occur even after an asset has apparently been protected. Here are the most common localized corrosion types, according to NACE:

  • Pitting corrosion– Pitting corrosion is the result of localized failures in a coating system. At these points of failure, small holes begin to form and increase in size if the problem is not addressed. Because pitting corrosion is more difficult to spot, and often occurs on assets that owners consider adequately protected, pitting corrosion is much more likely to progress to the point of seriously degrading the integrity of an asset, making it a far more dangerous type of corrosion.
  • Crevice corrosion– Also sometimes called “contact” corrosion, crevice corrosion occurs in those micro-spaces where two different materials overlap or otherwise touch one another. This could be a metal-on-metal or metal on a non-metal point of contact, but it usually occurs around bolts, gaskets, washers, clamps or other fastening devices that form small spaces where corrosion process can begin.
  • Filiform corrosion– Filiform corrosion occurs when moisture is allowed to penetrate the small gap between a coating and the substrate, usually at a natural edge on the substrate or at a defect in the coating system. This type of localized corrosion is often distinguishable by bubbles forming beneath the coating.

The most successful method for controlling these types of corrosion involves the one-two-punch of an effective prevention strategy and diligent upkeep of that means of prevention.

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High solids coatings: A visual breakdown

VOC regulations and what they mean for manufacturers

VOC limits and manufacturers

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are commonly emitted from everything from aerosol deodorants to household cleaning supplies. But because VOCs contribute to the buildup of ground-level ozone, VOC regulations exist in industries where they may be released in large enough quantities to constitute a substantial health risk.

According to the EPA, ground-level ozone results from a reaction between oxides of nitrogen and sunlight. It can make breathing difficult and is associated with a host of respiratory issues. Residents of some large cities, such as Los Angeles or Beijing, will be familiar with the buildup of smog over the city skyline, especially during periods of sunny weather. VOCs are, in essence, a main ingredient of smog. But whereas Los Angeles began to regulate emissions in the 1970s and the parts per million of ground-level ozone have fallen ever since, Beijing has only recently enacted emission controls and still sees exceptionally smoggy days.

Though inventions like the catalytic converter have been instrumental in cutting pollution, so too have regulations on the output of VOCs in industrial settings. While VOC regulations may sometimes be a thorn in the side of high-output facilities, they’re nothing compared to the health effects that can result from heavy exposure to ground-level ozone from VOCs.

VOC regulations by state

Coatings manufacturers are limited in the number of VOCs they may put in their coatings by the EPA’s Architectural Coating Rule for Volatile Organic Compounds. Enacted in 1998, this subset of the earlier Clean Air Act sets nationwide rules for the manufacture, labeling and packaging of coatings intended for use on any stationary structure. This category includes what are typically thought of as industrial coatings.

Additionally, nearly every industry has its own regulations controlling for VOC emissions. State regulations must meet what the EPA calls Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT), or the lowest VOC emission levels that can be achieved given technological and economic considerations. Some states and counties, however, go even further. States like Pennsylvania and California have enacted VOC regulations that are far tougher than the EPA’s.

How low-VOC products can help business

VOC regulations don’t have to be the limiting factor in production for manufacturers. OEM and other operations using large amounts of industrial coatings have low-VOC options. These can help keep manufacturers running at full bore, while allowing manufacturers to continue doing business as usual.

We’ve written on this blog before about 100% solids coatings. These are coatings which contain no solvents, and hence no VOCs. While it is true that these coatings tend to come with a higher sticker price than a similar coating containing VOCs, they also tend to cover a much greater surface area. In many cases, this can make the price difference a relative wash.

Water-based coatings are another option for manufacturing operations to reduce their VOC output. While these coatings may have had longer curing times in the past, newer, hybrid formulations and other methods of forced curing have largely made this issue irrelevant. These products can also help to remove the need to artificially slow production in order to stay beneath VOC emission limits.

If you’re interested in discussing low or zero VOC coatings further, we’d love to talk. You can get in touch with us here.

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