Leveraging New Standards for Improved Customer Communications

Posted on 6/23/2014 11:48:14 AM By Bob Braun

In my last several posts, I discussed how one can balance the value attributes of a product for a Green world, as certain product formulations present an opportunity for the formulator to use green chemistry advantageously.  In this post, I will begin to focus on additional product attributes that have been driven to greater focus due to new standards created by both industry and advocacy interests.

Here is a simple example from my foam sealant and adhesive experience:

As a formulator of foam sealant since the early 1980's, I noted in the early 90's that some of the most important energy saving characteristics that the company touted were not being reflected by our industry’s standards.  Industry data sheets were focused on the physical and mechanical properties of the product, which tended to position the product as an adhesive much more than an air barrier sealant.  Also, R-value was touted, even though the product was used to cover only a miniscule area of the building! 

In 1997, the primary foam sealant manufacturers met at the ASTM C24 meeting in Ft Lauderdale, FL. At this time, there was no formal ASM C24 subcommittee dedicated to foam sealants, and initially the participants met somewhat informally.  After a year, the then C24.20 Chairman—Larry Boise—suggested the group meet as a task group under the General Sealants subcommittee.  A year later, he asked that I form a standalone foam sealants subcommittee to better focus the appropriate interests.  Out of that request, I created the C24.61 subcommittee.  At these early meetings, we realized that to a certain extent our technical data sheets were not communicating the most important product features.  In fact, there were no standardized test methods for the same.  This realization drove the group to develop of the following ASTM C24.61 standards listed below:

C1536 TM for measuring foam sealant yield

C1620 Specification for aerosol foam sealants

C1642 Practice for measuring air leakage of foam sealants

C1643 TM for post foam sealant expansion

C1737 Guide for evaluating temperature effects to foam sealant

D6464 TM for aerosol foam drywall adhesive (developed under ASTM D14)

AAMA the 812 Standard for evaluating foam sealant pressure-build (through the auspices of AAMA)

Each of the above aerosol foam sealant/adhesive issues were deemed to be focusing on what one really expected a foam sealant/adhesive to do or perhaps related to an issue germane to foam sealant use such as yield, temperature effects, or post dispensing expansion.  This is not to say that the industry abandoned completely the earlier metrics such as: tensile strength; compressive strength; adhesive strength; water absorption; water vapor transmission; surface flame spread and smoke development; and R-value.

But, now a foam sealant user also had a set of metrics that reflected the everyday issues that customers needed to know when selecting and using a product.  In fact, these standards have directly or indirectly led to the development of entirely new product categories and product label statements previously not in existence.  For example:

  • Specialty foam sealants for window and door rough opening sealing
  • Adhesive foam for retaining wall construction and roofing tile attachment
  • Fire blocking foam sealant for interior stud wall penetrations in combustible construction
  • Better labeling and customer communication of high expanding vs. low expanding foam sealant
  • Specific foam adhesive specifications for drywall and sub-floor attachment
  • Better product selection by the customer with greater satisfaction and reduced misuse

These new standards also helped to facilitate better customer communication since manufacturers were now referencing product claims to agreed industry standards versus internal company standards. 

Today, the greatest challenge for the foam sealants industry relates to developing a standard truly reflective of product durability.  This is especially difficult due to the many uses and applications for aerosol foam sealant and adhesive products.  The C24.61 subcommittee is discussing durability amongst many other issues at the June 22-24 ASTM C24 meeting in Toronto, Canada.  Click here to view the ASTM foam sealant subcommittee’s progress and access minutes.

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