When they think of digitization, raw materials would not be the first thing that comes to mind for most stakeholders in the coatings industry.
Why are we putting this topic first and on the Workference topic list? First, we are looking at the entire value chain of paints and coatings, i.e., “cradle to cradle.” The value chain starts with the raw materials.
In this part of the value chain, the deficit of data is the greatest due to lack of availability as well as lack of standard formats. The most common sources of raw material data are technical data sheets (TDS) and material safety data sheets (MSDS), available in printed form or, in the best case, as pdf files.
Any relationship between structure and property of raw materials, significant at the latest in application, depends on their underlying chemical and physical raw material data. Any future necessary and definitive optimization in the direction of sustainable products will do so – provided that the hitherto missing basis is created. A good, valid database of raw materials is the basis for
- Structure-property relationships
- Possible incompatibilities
- Error prevention and correction in the process chain
- Sustainability assessments
- Digital product passports
Measurement / Processes / Data Analysis
Coatings production is undergoing a profound transformation. Online characterization methods, process optimization through artificial intelligence, self-controlling and optimizing processes, etc. are becoming more and more available to the coatings industry.
Such tools have enormous potential, but their implementation is usually not easy. Some of the related questions are:
- Which characteristics are the true key properties to be investigated?
- What method should be used to characterize them?
- How does one implement such a method in the laboratory or in manufacturing?
- How does one get quantifiable value from the data collected?
- How do the machines communicate with each other?
Recycling / Circular Economy (in Preparation)
Recycling and circular economy are undoubtedly hot topics when it comes to sustainability. While the recycling of applied paint layers on a substrate will remain a very complex issue for some time, both economically and technically, it has often already been solved for liquid materials such as paint residues, faulty batches, excess stock before or after the expiration date, albeit in local incinerators.
The paint industry needs a different approach, where, for example, liquid materials are reprocessed to produce new paints and coatings. But physical recycling, e.g. solvolysis, and chemical recycling such as depolymerization or complete pyrolysis can also be solutions – with different ecological and economic balances. Digital product passports play a central role in this topic in order to create an environmentally friendly, but also economic optimum.