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Going Green

Hardcastle Auto Body Converts to Waterborne Paints

Earth friendly auto paint is growing in importance as all the major paint companies produce paints for new environmental regulations. As part of this effort, Hardcastle Auto Body converted all traditional solvent-based auto paints to Dupont's waterborne paints, significantly reducing the shops overall VOC emmissions.

More on Waterborne Paints
from the Department of Toxic Substances Control

Most coatings manufacturers have developed waterborne color coatings to comply with
European emissions requirements. Changes in California air quality regulations
are lower the volatile organic compound (VOC) limits allowed in coatings and require the use of waterborne refinish coatings. Waterborne and low-VOC coatings technology continuously improves to meet the needs of the industry while maintaining regulatory compliance.

Regulatory Changes
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted a suggested control measure (SCM) for automotive coatings in October 2005. The purpose of the SCM is to improve consistency and enforceability among air district rules and to achieve VOC emissions reductions beginning in 2009. The SCM serves as a model that each air district may adopt to meet the state implementation plan and California Clean Air Act requirements. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) amended their auto body coating operations rule to conform to the suggested control measure.

How do the regulatory changes affect shops?
Shops in some air districts will need to use waterborne or low-VOC color coats and primers to comply with the reduced VOC limits in coatings regulations. Manufacturers are expected to develop automotive coatings that meet California’s strict air regulations for VOC emissions.

What are waterborne coatings?
The solvent in automotive coatings thins pigment solids for smooth and even application and then evaporates. Waterborne coatings contain water as the main solvent but also contain other solvents, such as glycol ethers, to improve application. These coatings are ideal primers because they have greater resistance to heat and abrasion and provide excellent adhesion. Waterborne primers and primer-surfacers have a VOC content as low as 1.2 lbs/gal.

Why use waterborne coatings?
There are several advantages to using waterborne coatings:

  • Solvent-borne coatings contain VOCs and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) including toluene, xylene, methyl ethyl ketone, and ethyl benzene.
  • Waterborne coatings are less toxic, have low VOC levels, and are less flammable. Their use will reduce air emissions, improve worker health and safety and may decrease insurance costs.
  • The products may cost less than their solvent-borne counterparts and require no thinners, additives, or hardeners.
  • Compared to solvent-borne products, less product may be needed to cover the same surface area.
  • The pot life of the waterborne products is much longer and unused coatings can be saved in a sealed container for later use.
  • Waterborne primer is best used where solvent primer would react with existing substrate materials or coatings.
  • Paint guns can be cleaned with water or water-based solutions rather than paint thinner, acetone, or methylacetate.

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