Five BASF representatives share their predictions for market-specific trends in protective coatings

We want it cheaper, faster and easier to use — some coating trends will never change. When you look at specific markets for protective coatings, things get a bit more complex as you zero in on the customer’s needs. For instance, how do you help auto body shops work faster? How do you make it easier for ACE equipment owners resell their machinery? And how do you minimize the cost of labor when you’re coating an ocean tanker?

To get to the root of those questions, we sat down with a handful of BASF coating specialists and got their takes on the latest market-specific trends in protective coatings. 

Automotive refinishing: A need for speed

Subjected to high speeds, UV rays and a whole host of other environmental hazards, automotive coatings demand superior performance.

“High hardness, scratch resistance, chemical resistance and sustainability — including low VOC and waterborne systems — are some of the key drivers in the automotive coatings industry, both in OEM as well as refinish,” says Avinash Bhaskar, Market Segment Manager for Transportation Coatings.

When strong performance is a must, solventborne systems are often the best match for the automotive industry’s high standards. Though solvent-based coatings are often tricky to formulate with lower emission profiles, products like Joncryl® 915 offer high scratch resistance in a low-VOC formulation. 

Another trend involves boosting throughput in body shops. For that purpose, Bhaskar recommends Joncryl® RPD resins. These specialty acrylic polyols offer fast curing times and rapid property development for solventborne 2K polyurethane systems, and they allow low-VOC, high-solids coatings to be formulated to spray by conventional or airless equipment. “The resin helps to increase the throughput of a paint shop, which is a critical need in any automotive refinish body shop,” Bhaskar says.

Furniture and flooring: Keeping it green

Thanks to tightening regulatory pressures and new sustainability initiatives, low and ultra-low-VOC coatings are of particular interest in the wood furniture and flooring market.

“Traditionally, wood coatings are viewed as solventborne varnishes and lacquers,” says James Monroe, Market Segment Manager for Furniture and Flooring. “The trend to use water-based coatings and UV curable systems is increasingly popular since chemical suppliers, formulators and equipment producers are continually improving technology and economics for the use of these systems.”

Under pressure to reduce emissions and meet shortened lead times, wood product manufacturers now turn to high-performing water-based coatings with a variety of curing mechanisms.

“This trend will continue as multiple wood product industries push for faster and more sustainable supply chains,” Monroe adds.

Formulators have found success with high-performing products like Joncryl 2981, a water-based acrylic coating for interior and exterior applications, and Laromer UA Aqua, a series of water-based urethane acrylates that greatly increase production speed for manufacturers who are currently using or switching over to UV curable systems.

General industrial coatings: Do more with less

When it comes to designing industrial coatings, less is more — that is, less of the actual coating means more savings in materials, time and ultimately money. The trick is getting those savings along with the strong performance you expect in rugged industrial applications.

That’s where direct-to-metal (DTM) coatings come in. As a more efficient alternative to your typical primer and topcoat systems, DTM coatings allow for the application of one coat while offering comparable performance to two-coat systems.

“During the application of the singular coat, there is only one opportunity to have overspray or other human application errors,” adds Phil Robinson, Market Segment Manager for General Industrial Resins and Additives.

The result is high levels of corrosion resistance, chemical resistance and UV degradation or weatherability with a cost-saving reduction in material consumption.

Industrial coating formulators also look to meet the eco-friendly demands of their customers.

Sustainability is a trend that is near and dear to this market

Phil Robinson

Market Segment Manager for General Industrial Resins and Additives

“Sustainability is a trend that is near and dear to this market,” says Robinson. “Consumers are more educated than ever, and they want to know that what they are buying is safe and doesn’t come as a detriment to the environment.”

In addition to low-VOC coatings, BASF offers APEO-free and BPA-free systems. According to Robinson, Joncryl OH 8314 is one example of a high-performance, low-toxicity waterborne 2K DM coating. It comes with an end-of-pot-life indicator, which helps to reduce costs by minimizing application errors. It pairs well with Basonat HW, a series of hydrophilic aliphatic polyisocyanates, for added cost-efficiency and an array of both high- and low-gloss finishes.

ACE equipment and powder coatings: Ace the test of time

Great value is always on trend in the agricultural, construction and earthmoving (ACE) equipment market, but equipment owners are becoming more focused on how long they can extend that value.

As ACE equipment owners look to trade in their used machinery to offset the cost of new equipment, manufacturers need to keep the resale market on their radar. Long-lasting coatings are key to helping equipment owners get top dollar for their sales.

“[The resale market] has changed the way OEMs view their coatings strategy,” says Kyle Kampf, Market Segment Manager for ACE, Marine and Protective Coatings. “Durability and coating integrity are becoming more important, because the coatings need to look great not only on the showroom floor but 3 to 5 years after the initial sale.”

Durability and coating integrity are becoming more important, because the coatings need to look great not only on the showroom floor but 3 to 5 years after the initial sale

Kyle Kampf

Market Segment Manager for ACE, Marine and Protective Coatings

Durable coatings also increase the maintenance cycle time on a piece of equipment. To retain color integrity and prevent corrosion on the machines, Kampf says products like Joncryl 933 are particularly robust with the added benefit of formulating to lower VOC levels.

The typical ACE machine needs a variety of different coating technologies to adhere to its many unique surfaces, including powder coatings for smaller metal components such as handles, pedals and wheels.

Kampf points to Joncryl 848 for matte finishes on surfaces that need good grip with less glare, as well as Joncryl 804 for weatherable powder coatings that resist UV rays and maintain gloss in the long run.

Powder coatings have the added environmental bonus of producing almost zero waste and no VOCs.

Marine and protective coatings: A well-oiled machine

The latest trends in marine and protective coatings are all about saving time and money while improving overall performance. The right coatings should last longer, help contractors work faster and reduce downtime on the asset you’re coating.

“In marine projects, labor costs can add up to 90 percent of the project,” says Shiona Stewart, Industry Marketing Manager for Transportation, Industrial, Furniture and Floor Coatings. “New coatings need to protect the surface better and last longer to reduce labor costs.”

Products with excellent weatherability, accelerated cure times, rapid property development and longer pot-life, like Joncryl RPD 950-AC/P, let contractors apply multiple layers faster and finish the job sooner without compromising overall performance.

“This benefits the asset owner, who sees lower labor costs and a faster return to service, as well as the contractor, who can perform more jobs in a year,” Stewart explains.

Lower VOC requirements continue to drive more sustainable solutions in the marine market. While other segments have switched to water-based solutions, the higher durability requirements for marine applications still require a solvent-based solution. Lower VOC requirements can be a challenge for solvent-based coatings typically used in marine and protective coatings. Though marine applications still use solvent-based systems to meet their higher durability requirements, Joncryl RPD 950-AC/P can be formulated to low VOC levels, allowing manufacturers to meet US regulatory demands while maintaining a high standard of performance.

Keep your finger on the pulse of coating trends

While each of these industries have unique pain points and needs to address, they all share a need for higher-performing coatings that are more sustainable and help cut costs in various ways. Companies that cater to the evolving needs of their markets will be better positioned to stay on trend well into the future.

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