The raw materials to be evaluated may be synthesised by us or provided by a client. Clients’ materials can be commercial products which are not currently used in coating or ink manufacture or they can be unwanted by-products of an unrelated production process.
In order to be acceptable as a raw material the product has to meet three basic criteria, namely safety, cost and utilisation potential. Of the three, safety is the least negotiable and if, for example, the product contains significant amounts of lead or other toxic elements, then it is unlikely that anyone is going to contemplate using it.
The surface coatings industry is highly competitive and cost-conscious and consequently the price of any raw material is going to have a major effect on its market penetration. The industry will however always pay a premium for products which have environmental or technical advantages over existing raw materials.
Utilisation potential is defined as the manner in which the properties of the raw material limit the products in which it can be used. Negative features include inappropriate colour, penetrating odour or rheological properties that make it difficult to handle in bulk.
We find that the most effective way to evaluate a novel raw material is to use it to make an appropriate coating or ink. We would also make a similar batch using a conventional raw material. The two coatings are then subjected to a suite of tests designed to highlight the effect of the novel raw material on the performance of the coating.
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