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Performance Industrial Coatings by Van Technologies, Inc.
Specializing in Waterborne and UV Curable Technologies

Frequently Asked Questions

Coatings are complex.  We are here to respond to your questions to help make the complex manageable and to provide you with a holistic solution that serves not only your products, but also your process and your team.  We are here to help – contact us through our site via email or live chat or via our toll free number.

Questions

What exactly is a UV Coating?

There are a number of times when someone calls to ask about UV coatings to protect a surface from UV light.  After all, UV light energy contributes to the degradation of the exposed, unprotected surface finish and the underlying substrate.  We consider UV protection a function of our Exterior Coatings and not a function of our UV coatings.

For us, the term, “UV Coating” means a coating that is effectively cured upon exposure to UV light to result in a surface layer that can be placed into service immediately.  On a side note, we also have UV curable coatings for exterior use and protection.  We just want to make sure we are able to discuss the specific application you have in mind when talking about UV Coatings!

Where do we start?

So, you are interested in upgrading your finishing operation.  Perhaps it requires the installation of a fully automated finishing line or maybe simply an improved manual spray booth.  Here are some points to consider when wondering where to begin.

  • First, what does the finish need to do, how should it be applied, and how should it look? The applied, dried and/or cured finish must conform to any customer-specific performance criteria, tolerances and specifications.
  • Second, how familiar with the finishing process are those responsible for the application of the finish? This is very important as a low degree of experience will require more training and instruction in finishing methods.

The good news is that we enjoy working with process development, installation and/or expansion of various finishing operations.  One of our most important responsibilities, however, is to effectively communicate that the installation of a finishing line does not represent a “plug and play” or “turn the switch on and run” scenario. There are always a number of obstacles to overcome and we do this by forming an excellent partnership with the customer.  Through teamwork, the ultimate success is achieved.

The process begins with a series of meetings detailing the type of products to be finished, the finish performance criteria or specifications, the volume or surface area to be finished over specific time intervals, the cost targets, and the need for environmental compliance.  It really comes down to People, Process and Chemistry or P2C.

Wood is easy to finish... right?

The fact that wood is so challenging may not be immediately apparent.  It is true that anyone can effectively finish wood, but few can actually do it well to professional standards.  Typically, we are called upon to support wood finishers that require “excellence.”  This requires serious attention to detail and a considerable effort by our technical team assigned to the challenge.  Consider the following:

There are no two pieces of wood alike.

Even within a specific log of a specific species, there are structural differences encountered.  Open grain, closed grain, heart cut, early growth, late growth, sap and pitch content, tannins, oils, retained moisture content or absence, etc. may all influence the quality of a finish or treatment to the wood surface.  The coatings formulator needs to consider natural wood variation in development activities to achieve the targeted finish of excellence.   Therefore, wood properties represent a considerable challenge to the formulator but, importantly, they represent only a part of the total challenge.

The finishing process is a system of many moving parts.

The formulator is required to consider a number of variables including the tools, equipment, and methods of the process environment that can influence the quality of the final finish.

No two finishers or operators are alike.

People will have individual opinions, visions or thoughts of how best to set up the application process.  The coatings formulator must, therefore, manage a number of variables and develop a finish system that allows for an acceptable window of operating latitude and still conform to performance specifications.

Finishing wood, therefore, is not trivial when targeting excellence.  The coatings formulator is responsible for the integration of a number of important factors that influence finish quality namely (and most simply stated):  People, Process, and Chemistry

Will I get grain raise when working with waterborne coatings?

YES – water raises wood grain, but can be made minimal and, when using GreenLight Coatings® waterborne wood coatings, grain raise can be eliminated!  When using various coatings in the GreenLight Coatings® finishing process, you will experience grain raise.  It is the strategy of the system to let the stains and sealers raise wood grain.  In doing so, the sealer will “lock in place” raised fibers so that during the sanding process, a highly smooth, uniform surface is ready for topcoat application.  After topcoating, no secondary grain raise is seen and a high quality finish results.  Best finish results are obtained by practice and patience and it will be found that the system is simple, easy, and remarkably fast!

Wood moisture content will influence the degree of grain raise seen and, therefore, the potential effort necessary to achieve the quality desired.  Maintain a constant storage environment for wood stock to help eliminate any finish quality variations.

Does solvent based finishes look better than water based finishes?

In the early developmental stages of waterborne coating development, there were distinct differences in finish quality and performance.  Advancements in the waterborne finish technology have long since “caught-up” and rival the performance and aesthetic attributes, they also offer distinct advantages, especially when pertaining to manufacturing, environmental and safety concerns.

At a recent industry event, attendees were asked to evaluate a series of panels of varied species, half of which featured solvent-based finishes and the other half water-based.  Results from the survey indicated that 51% of the time, the evaluators correctly identified the coating type.  Knowing that they only had two choices to select from, that made the results no better than the guess of a coin flip!

Though the survey was informal, it did call upon the knowledge and experience of industry representatives showing that waterborne finishes done well will provide the performance and beauty that you are seeking – then when you add on the manufacturing, environmental and safety advantages, you have a finish that works for your product, your people and for your profitability.