Technologic advances in the paint industry: Smart coatings and more

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It's probably not every single day you’re thinking about something as seemingly mundane as paint, but the reality is that we’re surrounded by it anywhere you go. While we’ve come a long way from those pre-1978 days where lots of house paint would contain lead, many houses out there still have it in them.

But the intention of this article is to highlight some of the advancements. Some of these advancements have helped make the homes safer, too. 

While painters are currently being encouraged to donate their spare masks with the pandemic that is happening outside our door, paint has never been as safe as it is now.

That is not to say that you can simply go online and just start ordering the liquid substance from any website, as there are still countries out there that don’t have the same standards for regulating as the US does. The advancements also mean safer workplaces for contractors and other employees.

One of the biggest technological improvements in the industry is the introduction of smart coating. So what exactly is that? 

While it isn’t a term that has been universally defined, as it was never seen as a commercially possible project, their uses are increasing. In the simplest terms, smart coating is a coating that has “smart” features. These features include self-healing, self-cleaning, and more where the coating will exert a feature on the basis of its environment. Think it’s too good to be true?

They’re already being used in the automotive, construction and consumer electronics industries for a number of different purposes, and it is estimated that it will be a $11.68B market in just 4 years – by 2024. Are you listening already? And it’s not just on the consumer side that you will start to see these introductions, it’s also being used in aerospace and for military purposes.

How do smart coatings work? While there are different types for different purposes, it comes down to their ability to release the active agents in the manner that allows them to achieve the intended purpose, which for instance could be to have protective measures against corrosion, or to discourage the development of cracks.

Different purposes and environments call for different properties to be widely available in paint to provide the best possible protection. For instance, certain environments where high levels of humidity and salt is present would easily call for special types of coating that ensured the elements aren’t as aggressively eating away at the wooden framing of the house. 

For industrial purposes, too, these smart coatings can have a number of functions, including protecting BP’s massive steel infrastructure from corroding. While the possibilities are many, we’re still in the infancy of this technology’s deployment, and the various industries are still just figuring out the potential uses.

Some of the possibilities may sound like they’re taken right out of a psy-fi novel, like the idea of self-healing scratches on phones. The idea being that the damage is recorded and that there is a counteraction to help it.

But it is not just smart coatings that are now revolutionizing the paint industry. There are other things happening to, right as you’re reading this article.

The air quality is getting better and better as the manufacturers are improving the way the paint is made, as well as the levels of VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, that are being emitted as the paint is drying, and you’re seeing the increased use of paints with formaldehyde reducing technologies. Although other materials in the house may still emit VOCs, paint has traditionally been a big source for them. 

There are certain rooms, both in residential and commercial settings where strong, unfortunate odors are likely to be an issue, but with various odor eliminating technologies, these are now becoming fewer. Companies known to produce these high quality paints include Sherwin Williams, having been around since 1866. Technologically-advanced paints may not just help keep your indoor quality significantly higher but can have various other great features added to it, many of which you will only be realizing when you’re waking up one day and thinking about the fact that these walls don’t require the same maintenance as what you have been used to. 

When we think about self-cleaning coatings, it is easy to overlook just how helpful it can be. What is the one thing you’re probably scared of getting in the bathrooms but that always end up developing no matter how well you like to think you air out the place? Yes, that’s right – mold. Mold and mildew are every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Not just because it is a pain to deal with, but also because of the health implications it can have. With all the new paint technologies that have come out, you can get paint that is significantly less likely to have mold grow on it. Doesn’t that sound great? 

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