Low-VOC or Waterborne Paint? Here’s the Latest News Part VII
The US and Canada are unique in that there are a handful of “exempt solvents” that the EPA has deemed safer than the ozone-depleted counterparts that contribute to smog. The exempt products, as mentioned, must be limited to just 3-5 pounds per gallon in automotive paint products, in regulated states. In the meantime, the rest of the world is not allowed these exempt solvents. They must meet the VOC requirements through higher solids or by using more water. So when reviewing future technologies, suppliers will need to take a more global view of VOC-compliant products. There is a much larger market for these than within the US market.
In the global market, waterborne systems use latex as its foundation, providing versatility and usability. There are even those that use latex with other additives such as water-soluble resins. A lot has changed in the last decade as it applies to the technology used for and available to companies to make waterborne and low-VOC products. For example, when PPG delivered on its first waterborne system in 2007, it was a basecoat system only. Now they have increased the performance characteristics such as in a better build on the primer, better adhesion and better gloss.
Those that are the formulators have the greatest degree of pressure in its attempt to make waterborne primer, sealers, basecoats and clearcoats, because to date they only have a partial view of what the technology needed to accomplish their goals.
The most difficult challenges to face are durability, cost and compliance. Different states cause different paint damage so creating a product that negates those effects for everyone, everywhere is the goal at hand. To eliminate vehicles that suffer fading, chipped and peeling clearcoats is the battle at hand. The biggest challenge perhaps, will be to keep the low-VOC solvent-based products within the reach of shops and technicians budgetary restrictions.