New Challenges for the Sealant and Adhesive Formulator: Part II

Posted on 3/20/2014 1:52:22 PM By Bob Braun

In my last post, I began a review of the historic versus the newly evolving challenges for the modern formulator. In this post, I will dig deeper into the issues from my last post, which included a discussion of my formulating experience at the Sherwin Williams Paint Company in Chicago, Insta-Foam Products Inc. and Flexible Products Company in Joliet Illinois and The Dow Chemical Company.  Throughout this portion of my career, I was involved in the formulating of latex paints, polyurethane foams for sealing and spray insulation, and sealants and adhesives targeted to building applications.  Review the details.

Now I want to continue the “green” discussion I started earlier regarding LEED v4 chemicals of concern, the evolving “Red Lists,” and the marketing issues associated with the same.  Previously, I noted that there is more than one way to gain LEED points by “Greening” your product.  Avoidance of red list products is of course one, but full ingredient reporting and material optimization is a second.  You can check out USGBC's Building product disclosure and optimization - material ingredients” notice here.

So, as a formulator today you need to both optimize product performance and avoid Red Listed chemicals.  Product performance includes the “everything wish list: ”superior durability, green properties, ease of use and clean-up, and (per the sales department) the lowest cost.  You can certainly borrow from Peter and give to Paul as necessary, and this is in fact the balancing act that you are charged with.  Most often, to maximize any one of the above requires diminishing one or more of the others.  So how does one formulate the optimum product?  You must target the product characteristics to the application.  Some applications are more demanding than others as we all know.  Thus, a swimming paint is normally based on two component epoxy chemistry and not waterborne latex chemistry.  Will there ever be a latex swimming pool paint as durable as an epoxy?

For each application, you must weigh the product performance attributes versus the sales and marketing estimates for the value of the product.  At times this is easy, but more often it is not. It becomes even more difficult to compete on a level playing field when each manufacture touts a different value proposition for a product used for the same end-use application. 

ASTM is a great organization that develops consensus standards for nearly all products manufactured.  Building codes are then based on these standards.  There are ASTM Committees for Building Performance (E06) and for Sustainability (E60), as well as a multitude of committees for standards related to specific product types.  The industry also has a multitude of organizations that have evolved to optimize energy, air leakage, moisture accumulation, Green-nes, etc...  The list of associations is very numerous and I have discussed many of these in earlier blogs. But, there is no one yet able to accurately weigh and balance the many issues related to optimum long term building sustainability such that the end result really achieves the best value for the environment, the building, and the customer! 

If you wish to familiarize yourself with the various LEED rating systems, you can do so here. And, If you want to know the principal LEED chemicals are of concern, they are:many heavy metals, carcinogens per California's Proposition 65, many phthalates, Bisphenol A, TDI, MDI, and many chlorinated and brominated organic compounds.  Here is the complete list and the USGBC dialog related to materials of concern in building products.

In my next post, I will delve even deeper into balancing the value attributes of a product in a “Green World.”

Questions? Anything you'd like to see in the future on any topic?  

comments powered by Disqus