Waterborne Technology has been around for at least 35 years in some form or fashion. The most common started out as floor polishes to replace wax on vinyl tile floors. I was fortunate to be one of the formulators that worked with this technology in the 1980s.
Jump ahead to 2016 and this technology has soared for virtually every surface imaginable. Most people think of house types of latex paint when one thinks of water-based products. And although that is still a very large market, other resin technology has allowed for water products to be applied to things like baseball bats, automobiles, trains, planes and most places in between.
The initial concern when products started going to water formulations: is this as durable as the solvent counterpart? The adage was that when adhesion was questionable, use solvent. We threw that one out the window! With the new polymer developments, newer additives development, and regulations that favor the water product over solvent, welcome to the world of waterborne/water-based products.
Before you just “jump in” and start putting together a product, I encourage you to ask yourself a series of questions. If you think you can skip this step, THINK AGAIN! Skipping this series of questions will cause you to take longer time to finish your formula. Use your formulation notebook or laptop and write these questions down. Then you always know if you are on target through the course of development for clients or yourself. This practice establishes the baseline for your project.
This list is always dependent on several factors, so let’s walk through the necessary steps to properly formulate these products. I like to use a checklist and find out:
- what exactly the product will be
- how it will be used
- what inherent traits it needs to have
This may sound basic, but to those who are just starting out, or even seasoned professional formulators, it is a very necessary step.
What are you formulating?
|Paint||simple interior wall paint|
|Adhesive||floor tile adhesive|
|Floor polish||high volume discount store vinyl tile|
|Carpet backing||OEM application|
|Fabric application||silk screen pretreatment|
|Water||Clear waterborne lacquer|
|100% solids||UV curable for hardwood floors|
|Wood||cabinets, furniture, house trim, moldings|
|Metal||shelving, water towers, railcars, pipe fittings|
|Concrete||flooring, highways, bridges, oil rigs, buildings|
|Plastic||cell phones, cars, boats|
|Fabric||clothing, signs, trade show booths|
|Paper||self-adhesives, sheen control, wrapping|
Once you have these determined, you should ask some simple but necessary questions to start to round out the first series of items.
|Interior or exterior||Huge factor in resin selection|
|VOC targets||Environmental concerns or regulations|
|Film forming or non-film forming||Secondary concern for most formulators|
|Clear or colors||normally medium factor for resin selection|
|High gloss or different sheens||types of matting agents’ clarity|
|Thermoplastic or thermoset||large factor for overall finished product|
Next comes the starting qualities of the product you are formulating. Again simple, but necessary. Ask yourself if the product should incorporate:
- Adhesion qualities
- Chemical resistance
- UV resistance
- Elongation factors
What application methods?
Ask yourself if the method of end user application will have any bearing on product development. They may use:
- Airless Sprayers
- Conventional Spray
- Curtain Coating
- Roll Coating
- Automatic Spray
I would not be surprised if some of you say, “come on, Dave, are you kidding me? All of this before I even start?” The simple answer is YES. If you want to be successful and not repeat your efforts over and over again, take the time and make this list. This clarifies for you, your client or boss, and even your marketing department, exactly what you hope to develop.
There may be many additional questions, other than this intial list. Now that you have laid the groundwork for what you want to formulate, start to sift through the polymer selections and those technologies to start to what will fit with your initial list. We’ll cover polymer selection in part 2 of this article.
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