Published: April 03, 2024
Published: April 03, 2024

Madison Sloan: Sustainable Future Thanks to Water-Borne Coatings

Madison Sloan, our U.S. sales manager for consumer products, is an expert in water-borne coatings, which are quickly dominating the former world of solvent-borne coatings as a sustainably advantaged variant. Madison supports some of the top clients in the industry, not only having deep knowledge of water-borne technologies but also spreading that knowledge to end users, popularizing this option every day. Join Madison as she reveals how we custom-make water-borne colors!

Finding the Perfect Fit

Madison recalls that she has been close to topics of environmental protection since her student days. "Every step has been leading me towards a role that would be sustainability focused, but ideally in a technical environment."

Madison first became acquainted with water-borne coatings in the electronic materials lab where she started working as a chemist. A year later, already as our full-time colleague, Madison moved to Automotive Refinish, where they were converting existing solvent-borne coatings into water-borne ones. Next came a commercial role for our Industrial Coatings consumer products as a global strategic account manager where she was able to put her technical knowledge and expertise to use.

Water-Borne and Advantaged

Nowadays, Madison works on a team of experts in water-borne coatings. Not only are they experts in chemistry, but they also help train the industry in correct application techniques and equipment.

Before water-borne paints became an emerging topic, solvent-borne paints were prevalent. Madison explains that they have many characteristics that are helpful in the paint industry.

The solvents used in solvent-borne coatings are generally better at etching the surface of substrates than their water-borne counterparts which promotes adhesion. However, one critical downside to solvent-borne coatings is the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted when sprayed. These emissions negatively impact our atmosphere, which is why they are being regulated around the world.

Water-based paints are unique because they use water as the main solvent instead of harsh chemicals. However, water's natural properties can make it difficult to spread the color evenly and make it adhere to surfaces well. To overcome this, our chemists combine different resins and additives so that water-borne coatings can disperse in solution and adhere to surfaces well.

Thanks to the lower VOC emissions, water-borne paints are becoming a sustainably advantaged choice across many industries.

"With our expertise, we are leading the way in a water-borne alternative for any coating situation that we come across. For example, the electronics industry which is strong in China has a water-borne option for almost every coating system.”


Tailor-Making Formulas

The water-borne products are custom-made for our customers. "Every customer wants products tailored to their design. We have a core product platform that we pull from.”

Our Secure Launch Excellence™ process supports the introduction of new technologies and serves to validate and verify the raw materials being used during the custom product development.

We have people supporting every step of a product launch. From raw material validation to line trials to quality control testing. Part of launching a new product is dependent on remaining compliant in regions of operation. Environmental regulations are constantly evolving, so we do our best to anticipate regulatory trends and incorporate this into our product platforms.

Customers nowadays do not only wish to customize their product, but many of them have a global supply chain, so PPG’s global footprint is quintessential to support our customers.

"At this point, we have multiple manufacturing sites that are capable of producing water-borne paint. By increasing our output capacity, we are able to support more customers in more countries in the global shift to water-borne coatings.”

The Rising Water-Borne Stars

One key obstacle in the move to water-borne coatings is raw material prices. According to Madison, these are largely caused by lower demand and fewer material suppliers.

“These are both changing though, as more customers publish sustainability goals and water-borne coatings can make a big impact on VOC-related goals. Higher demand for these coatings leads to an increased demand for their raw materials. With more customers and suppliers entering the water-borne space we expect to see more flexibility on pricing in the future.”

As the market adjusts, the team is still doing their best to offer better pricing to further encourage the usage of water-borne coatings. In the hands of Madison and her team, the future of the industry is looking very promising.

Besides the rising water-borne stars, Madison is also excited to see the further development of powder coatings for electronic materials since these are considered the lowest VOC technology.

Powder coatings have amazing durability and good adhesion on multiple substrates. If we could get the appearance to match existing water-borne coatings, I think powder coatings could excel in the electronic material coatings market. Then, we don’t only get to reduce VOCs, but we can also reduce waste at the same time!

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