Waterborne paints the way to go?
The issue of whether or not to switch from solvent-based paint to waterborne paint is mired in controversy, with the environmentalists on the one hand once more targeting the automotive industry, while the traditionalists cite costs and problems with the paint finish as reasons for not changing.
As always, the truth is somewhere in between, but the fact is that legislation will win out in the end and all repairers will be forced to switch over to waterborne paints as an unfortunate given.
Is it a difficult process? Although many operators are reluctant to change, it may be a good thing for the industry for several reasons. The benefits are:
• Better for the environment: Less toxic paint is important, and scientists say elevated concentrations can persist in the air long after painting or repainting is completed.
• Healthier for your staff: Waterborne paint reduces the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), improving air quality and supposedly reducing the health risk to all.
• New and improved products: Transition to waterborne paint has prompted paint companies to develop new products.
• Less clear coat needed: For multiple hues and striping, waterborne paint has an advantage when it comes to spraying due to a thinner application. It takes less clear coat to even out the surface for the different layers.
• Cleaner/brighter than solvent-based paint: In painting with waterborne paint, wet paint tends to have a different hue from the true colour. Once it dries, the waterborne paint will take on the true hue. Interestingly, when it comes to the actual colour with waterborne, it comes out cleaner/brighter than a solvent-based paint. So what do I have to spend? Surprisingly, the investment in new equipment you will need is minimal.
You’ll need a stainless steel paint gun, to avoid rust, and good air flow. To cut down on drying time, it’s important to have a large volume of clean air to enhance drying.
Getting down to details, here are some of the reasons the “greenies” want us to change:
They say the health risks of using solvent-based paints include eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
And it is claimed that the automotive industry releases about 210,000 tons of ozone-producing solvents into the atmosphere each year, with the manufacture and application of paint accounting for about 32 percent of all VOC emissions.
Ready-to-use conventional basecoats have a VOC solvent content of around 84 percent (and 16 percent solids), whereas a typical waterborne base-coat is composed of about 70 percent water (and 20 percent solids) and 10 percent solvent. So the reduction in solvent use in making the switchover is substantial.
This article was based on information from Mattei. Download Mattei’s free “Compressed Air Checklist For Waterborne Paint Conversion” at compressors. matteicomp.com/waterborne-paintconversion-checklist.