The intensity of research into developing waterborne industrial maintenance coatings (which began in earnest roughly twenty-five years ago) has accelerated greatly in recent years. There are many reasons, including:
Innovation will be a key to any sustained success in this market. An environmental example is potential legislation requiring ultra-low VOC contents of less than 15 g/liter. As an example of green products, it has been demonstrated that coatings systems can help reduce energy consumption. ‘Cool roofs’ that use high performance acrylics, for example, will play a major role in retrofit and new building designs.
The dilemma is that waterborne coatings have historically not been able to provide the performance properties required in many industrial maintenance applications. Most architectural maintenance coatings are glorified ‘house paints’, fine for light duty applications but inadequate for most industrial maintenance environments. Specifically, waterbornes don’t traditionally have the tight cross-linking of epoxies or polyurethanes which allows those coatings to exhibit outstanding corrosion protection.
Madison Chemical Breakthrough Technology
Our parent company, Madison Chemical, recognized the significance of these trends and in 2002 introduced a waterborne polyurethane called AquaTech. While seeing duty in areas such as floors and interior walls, it remained somewhat of an underutilized product. However, that all changed with two seemingly unrelated discoveries during 2007 which allowed our researchers to open the door to a number of exciting new applications for this technology.
They discovered both a novel adhesion promoter called AP-50 and an easy-to-use metal surface preparation compound called GemBond. Working synergistically, these two technologies provide adhesion results comparable to that of a commercial abrasive blast (NACE 3 or SSPC-SP6). Taking these discoveries and applying them to our ongoing work with waterbornes led to the GemThane AquaTech system for light to moderate industrial service. We caution that water dispersible industrial coatings are not recommended for heavy service use, such as embedment, extended ponding water or continuous immersion. In those situations we recommend our easy to use ‘Mix and Apply’ solvent based products (e.g., GemThane OverCote). For 100% solids, fast setting polyurethanes or epoxies, please contact GemThane for advice on the system best suited to your needs.
GemBond Surface Conditioner, one of the lynchpins of the waterborne breakthrough, is a soap-like nonhazardous compound which is sprayed on the substrate surface at full strength using a simple low pressure sprayer. Over a period of about 30 minutes for galvanized steel to about 60 minutes for carbon steel, it dissolves mill scale, lifts oxidation, removes contaminants and deposits a layer of AP-50 Adhesion Promoter. The prepared surface is ready to accept the AquaTech products.
The adhesion of the finished coating system is typically around 1200-1500 psi, more than sufficient for light to moderate service duty. The AquaTech System is also economical, as GemBond reduces significantly the cost associated with surface preparation by eliminating the need for abrasive blasting or laborious power tool cleaning.
Of course, GemThane AquaTech products can still be used over a substrate prepared by traditional surface preparation methods such as abrasive blasting or power tool cleaning. The choice is yours, but keep in mind that No-Blast technology provides equivalent results with far less cost and hassle.
The GemThane AquaTech System
Three complementary coatings comprise the AquaTech System:
AquaTech Primer – advanced polymer-based steel primer (contains AP-50)
AquaTech TC (short for Top Coat) – advanced acrylic topcoat
AquaTech TC Ultra – advanced waterborne polyurethane topcoat
Suggested end uses include a variety of interior and exterior applications, such as:
For detailed product specifications and application instructions, refer to GemThane’s Technical Data Sheets and Application Instructions for the aforementioned products.