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Development water varnish processes

Water based paints


Water based paints

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The coming into force of new environmental restrictions on the use of solvent-based coatings was the motive to invest in a project aimed at replacing the current spray liquid paints with water-based systems.

This project, which involves as partners our company, Certottica and W3C, Wood Carinthian Competence Center, was co-funded by the Interreg IV Italy Austria Programme.

The aim of the project was to promote the use of eco-friendly paints, but at the same time to achieve the same resistance, adhesion and application on wood, plastics and metal, and to develop new systems based on nanotechnologies. Furthermore, we studied the most affordable processes to reduce the time needed to replace the production from solvent to water based in order to enable the SMEs to respect the new environmental regulations.

The several preliminary tests consisted in trying out different resins, which need not much water and allow to formulate mixtures with the following characteristics:

  • Adhesion
  • No stagnation, to avoid bulges especially on wood
  • Optimum smoothness of the paint with addition of  metal pigments in order to be able to read micron by Fischerscope.
  • Resistance to solvents: water, acetone, ammonia, artificial sweat.
  • Mechanical resistance.

For three years elsy research srl has carried out the study of water soluble resins making samples on metal and plastic which have been tested by Certottica and on wood, tested by W3C.

Since it failed to find out just one paint applicable to the 3 base materials: wood, metal and plastic, the product development followed two tracks:

  • A bi-component paint which can polymerize at low temperatures for applications on cellulose acetate, the main raw material used in the eyewear sector.
  • An acrylic paint with cooking at 150° C for metal and wood.

Elsy Research has developed an acrylic water based paint which can satisfy all the required characteristics:

  • Resistance to alcohol and solvents (acetone…)
  • Resistance to artificial swear
  • Adhesion
  • More resistance to  the scratches than common commercial products
  • Flexibility
  • Resistance to the yellowish
  • Uniform thickness
  • Polymerization by UV or traditional oven
  • Resistance to salt spray

The achieved formulation can be applied easily even on the wood without bulges as it is a product with high viscosity. The application is not especially difficult. The problem starts when you want to use in  the same plant at the same time solvent paints and water based paints: where there is organic solvent, there can be no water.

The solvent based plant can be converted into a water based one without  having to make a huge investment but, if this is not possible for reasons concerning the reproducibility of colours or the training of the employees, it is necessary to work for a period with both systems.

During the development of this project the main problems have been the information and the awareness of the SME’s. For this reason Certottica organized a round table: “Water based paints: benefits, limits and prospects” which was held on 28th of March 2014 in which Dr. Gajo Mauro produced the report “ The future of water based paints”.  This event allowed a comparison between international companies about all the main aspects of the problems: products, plats and restrictions.


For all those interested, please note that it is possible to request all the further technical details that emerged while developing the research. Please contact us directly by calling +39 0438 208911 or by sending an e-mail to info@elsyresearch.com