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Rising regulations IN ASIA

Exploring environmentally friendly waterborne coil coatings

Around the world, growing concern about the environmental impact of products is, rightly, leading to increasingly stringent regulations.

Some benefits in terms of sustainability are obvious, but the overall impact needs to be considered and sometimes meeting the new requirements is a challenge. In the case of coil coatings, there is a push underway, especially in Asia, to move from solvent-based to waterborne systems as these are based on a renewable natural source, rather than fossil-based raw materials. They also have lower levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which significantly improves air quality, and have lower toxicity and flammability as well as a more subtle odor. But developing new waterborne systems presents several challenges. Waterborne coil coatings potentially have a bigger environmental impact and might cost more, because more energy is required in the curing process. There is also the risk of poorer corrosion properties if the coating is not able to resist the water present in the process.

Phui Kuan is in charge of the waterborne coil coatings project at Beckers Malaysia.

The Long-Term Development Laboratory at Beckers Malaysia has been working on the solution to provide a complete waterborne coating system which would close the coating performance gap between waterborne and solvent-based systems and meet customers’ expectations in terms performance and design. The team carried out a line trial of a waterborne pre-treatment primer with a customer in New Zealand. It met the challenges both in terms of low VOC content and corrosion resistance. Work is ongoing on a waterborne primer, backcoat and topcoat system. Although this is still in development, the progress we have made in improving these technologies and overcoming the inherent challenges is encouraging and could help our customers meet their environmental requirements.

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