How to use start point formulations of architectural latex paints

Start point formulations is an inseparable document supplied with raw material samples and other technical materials, which allows both newcomers and the more experienced formulators to see how a given raw material can be used. Of course, it is good if the start point formulation in addition to the list of raw materials and their quantity for the preparation of an exemplary latex paint sample also includes the results of tests of liquid paints and coatings obtained from it, and ideally if the formulation also includes case studies showing the effect of the raw material in various doses, in combinations with other raw materials or comparisons to competitive raw materials. But how to interpret such start point formulations, case studies or ladder studies?

Development of start point formulations and gudeline formulations at the Spektrochem Paint Technical Center

This article will be slightly different than the rest of the blog. I often come across questions about how to start formulating architectural latex paints, how to build knowledge in this area and how to build experience as an R&D employee of the paint formulation department. Bearing in mind my experience and professional development of a starting point formulation for the largest companies in the chemical industry producing raw materials for latex paints, I decided to share some tips in this regard. In today’s article, I have discussed how to use start point formulations in the most correct way to develop the desired latex paints, as well as how to build your experience as a paint manufacturer’s laboratory worker on their basis.

What type of start point formulations
and technical materials you can find on the marke
t and how to use them?

Entering the world of raw materials for the production of paints and the market related to them, you will surely meet with various types of support for the sale of raw materials and the necessary documents provided both with samples for testing and deliveries when purchasing raw materials. Most of these materials are created for the development of the use of raw materials, as well as to make it easier for paint manufacturers to formulate recipes using them. The Spektrochem Paint Techical Center is a specialized research center developing starter formulations and other technical materials, which are defined by us as below. It is worth remembering that these are the definitions we create for the purpose of distinguishing individual studies, however, we also explain below what individual definitions on the market may also mean when the study is not prepared by us.

Start point formulation – starter formulation, framework formulation containing a list of ingredients (raw materials), usually included in the order of dosing and the amounts needed to obtain a paint with specific parameters, constituting an initial formulation that allows novices to find out about the list of raw materials needed to prepare the paint, e.g. in ISO 11998 scrubbing 2nd class usually with basic constants such as PVC (pigment volume concentration) and solid content. Start point formulations also contain informative data about raw material suppliers, which allows the sample to be reconstructed in the laboratory from the given raw materials and their quantity for further modification in terms of adjustment to your own needs, change of raw materials to locally available ones, etc. It is the simplest and basic form of presenting the method of use of a given raw material without focusing extensively on its efficiency. Start point formulation is only an example of the use of a given raw material (or raw materials) from a specific supplier in order to obtain paint in a specific PVC. An example of a Celanese starting point formulation for emulsion paint based on Mowilith LDM 1871 is shown below.

Example of start point formulation from Celanese for emulsion paint (2nd scrubbability class according to EN 13300)

Start point formulation is used to quickly and easily prepare a paint sample with a specific parameter category, e.g. scrub resistance. As shown in the example of a simple recipe from Celanese, the formulation declares a second class of scrub resistance according to EN 13300, without specifying a specific loss result in µm after 200 cycles, however, when preparing the paint from the presented formulation, it can be expected that this parameter will be achieved. The start point formulation presented as an example also notes that no “in-can” preservative is used, which is a matter for the formulator as local regulations and biocide availability vary.

The example of start point formulation shows that when preparing a paint in a laboratory from the presented formulation, you can expect the assumed parameter, however, further modification depends on the formulator, e.g. in terms of preservatives, as well as other parameters, e.g. application, drying time, hiding power, etc. What true, the formulation contains the indicated particles of ground calcium carbonate (Omyacarb 2GU, Omyacarb 5GU, Omyacarb 10GU) and titanium dioxide Crenox R-D-2, however, it is up to the formulator to further modify it in terms of obtaining optimal hidig power and modification in terms of other parameters. Therefore, the formulation of the starting point is the simplest starting point to facilitate the preparation of the paint, however, it does not exhaust the cases of its further modifications.

Start point formulations are used by novices to find out what should be in a given formulation from the point of view of basic raw materials and are to enable the preparation of their first paint samples with the awareness of the need for modification, for example in terms of rheological additives which are usually not included in start point formulations (e.g. ICI-high shear viscosity builders).

Case studies – an extended form of start point formulation including the recipe and examples of the use of a given raw material along with test results of samples prepared in the laboratory with its use. Case studies include a simple and legible report showing what test results can be obtained using a given raw material, e.g. influence on rheological properties, mechanical resistance of coatings, effect on syneresis reduction, etc. using standardized test methods on liquid samples, drying process or dry coatings. Case studies are often aimed at showing the action of the raw material in a specific dosage level in relation to a control sample (without given raw material) or in comparison with a competitive raw material and are intended to provide the formulator with knowledge about the possibility of obtaining similar test results and the way of obtaining them on his own paint formulations. Case studies sheets are usually presented in the form of results in tables, photos, charts and are a great tool to use in presentations on the raw material.

A slide with a formulation for case studies with coalescents developed by the Spektrochem Paint Techical Center

An example of the above starting formulation developed for the needs of case studies with various coalescents shows what the example case studies developed by the Spektrochem Paint Technical Center look like. The formulation used for case studies is a formulation that also shows a lot of additional data as formulation solids, incl. VOC, solid content by volume, PVC without and with additives, (Pigment + Filler)/Binder, CPVC, PVC/CPVC = Q, etc. The prepared case studies show the formulation of PVC 33% latex paint based on pure acrylic latex and the results of wet scrub resistance tests in accordance with ASTM D2486 (shown in the figure below). This presented a comparison of four different coalescents whose dosing dose was set at an effective level of lowering the MFFT to a range below 39 °F (below 4 °C).

Scrub test results ASTM D2486 of formulation shown with different coalescing agents

The use of case studies is based on the analysis of the example presented as a formulation plus the test results of individual parameters. They allow formulators an analytical approach to the issue of the selection of raw materials or a range of raw materials by comparing them with each other, e.g. conventional vs. bio-resources, raw material of the company X vs. competitive raw material. Thanks to case studies, you can try to translate the results obtained in the described technical reports into your formulations and compare the obtained impact of a given raw material on the improvement of a specific paint or coating properties.

Ladder studies – a more extensive form of case studies, including the presentation of the test results of paint or coating samples in relation to the different doses (ladder) of the raw material used, e.g. the impact on the scrub resistance of latex paints with the use of several filler dosing levels, the impact on the viscosity at high shear rates at several doses of the thickener, or the paint resistance to freeze-thaw when dosing two levels of anti-freeze additive. Ladder studies may also include graphs showing the reduction of the MFFT of different polymer dispersions by different coalescents at different dosages. Ladder studies are designed to show the formulator the effectiveness of a given raw material, usually additive, and allow him to understand its effectiveness in order to translate it into his own formulation.

Below is an example of ladder studies using the example of a case study report of lowering the MFFT for two polymer dispersions with different MFFTs, with four coalescents at different doses. On this basis, it is possible to draw conclusions and analyze the effectiveness of individual coalescing agents depending on the type of polymer dispersion and the initial MFFT.

An example of ladder studies for coalescents and two different styrene-acrylic dispersions

Using ladder studies reports is very similar to case studies. They describe examples of test results with respect to different dosages and describe the variability in parameters provided by gradually increasing dosages. Ladder studies allow for an analytical look at the effectiveness of the raw material in terms of its impact on dosage and provide the formulator with knowledge about grading the results that can be achieved with the assumed dosage on example formulations and show how to translate the obtained results into your own formulas.

Guideline formulation – the most comprehensive form of start point formulation combining both starting formulation, case studies, ladder studies as well as additional data and test results allowing for a broad analysis of the impact of raw materials on the obtained properties. Usually, guideline formulations are presented as the effect of a given raw material in various doses in various PVC ranges, synergy of operation with various polymer dispersions (e.g. effectiveness of defoamers, coalescents in relation to low-coalescing temperature studies), and are often tailored to the needs of paint producers on a specific local market, including ingredients from the local market (raw materials), as well as market habits to formulate paints from a given region, e.g. typically dedicated to the EU, USA, Middle East market, etc. Guideline formulations are the most labor-intensive development and allow on the analysis of the impact of a given raw material on the obtained properties in terms of cross-section, e.g. with formulations based on acrylic latex, VAE emulsions, in low, medium and high PVC ranges, with the use of various fillers, tinting bases, etc.

Excerpt from the guideline formulation developed at the Spektrochem Paint Technical Center

Using guideline formulation reports is the most advanced approach to the analysis of raw material efficiency by assessing its effectiveness in various aspects. Gudeline formulations, depending on their volume, allow you to analyze the use of the raw material in a specific PVC range or in the full range of PVC, in relation to compatibility with other raw materials, e.g. defoamers with different polymer dispersions, foaming of dispersants and the effectiveness of defoamers, but also show how how to introduce raw materials into the formulation, at what stage of the production process to maintain its maximum efficiency, in what pH range is this efficiency, how to adjust the pH for stability, etc. Gudeline formulations are used for an in-depth analysis of raw materials, from polymer dispersions, through functional fillers and titanium dioxide pigments, to dispersing additives, defoamers, coalescents, thickeners and other special additives.

This analysis allows for a better understanding of the behavior of the raw material in a comprehensive manner described in many formulations, many doses, in combination with different raw materials and in different ranges of PVC. It is a combination of start point formulations, case studies, ladder studies and extensive descriptions from research on incorporation into paint during its production. Thanks to gudeline formulations, the R&D department can more easily analyze the possibilities of using the raw material in the project, determine the doses on the basis of extensive examples described in the technical report, and this translates into faster implementation of the project in its own formulations.

Raw material selector chart – a sheet for a given raw material describing its effectiveness with other raw materials, e.g. defoamers dedicated to specific polymer dispersions from the market, dispersants dedicated to specific types of fillers and doses at which they should be used, or recommended raw materials for a given PVC range, etc. Raw materials selector charts can be and usually have the form of App or are available in a web browser in which the user can enter the type of formulation he is interested in, the scope of PVC, the use of the raw material and receives suggestions showing the initial selection selected for the narrowed scope of application. Raw materials selector charts are developed on the basis of long research, including case studies and ladder studies, which allow to obtain an extensive database of research results and recommendations on their basis, dedicated to specific raw materials, PVC ranges, systems for wood, for walls, etc.

Example of BYK-App for selecting additives

The above screenshots show how you can select raw materials for initial tests on the example of the BYK-selector App for additives. The individual selection steps show how to select low-shear viscosity rheology additives in aqueous architectural paints in the PVC range > 60%.

With starter formulations, gulideline formulations, raw material selector mobile Apps, case studies and other technical materials at your disposal, especially nowadays with today’s Internet access, obtaining information about raw materials is extremely easy. Online platforms that allow for the search and selection of raw materials are especially useful for this. Obtaining starter formulations, technical data sheets or ordering raw material samples is very easy thanks to direct communication with suppliers from specific countries. An example of such a platform is UL Prospector, which provides access to raw material data directly from their suppliers, allowing you to download starting point formulations, technical data sheets (TDS), safety sheets (SDS), order samples directly from the website, as well as check availability in a given region of the world.

Screen of sample addtive from raw material selector platform UL Prospector

Technical Data Sheet – TDS, s it is the basic document provided in principle for every raw material. It is usually available on the raw material manufacturer’s website and contains the necessary information data, which boils down to the general characteristics and depending on the type of raw material (pigment, filler, additive, etc.), it includes characteristic data and often declared parameters that are later included in the Cerificate of Analysis (CoA). The example below shows the technical data contained in the TDS for Minex (nepheline syenite) fillers mined at the Nephton, Ontario mine. The TDS lists the characteristics of the different micronized sizes of the Minex fillers with their typical data (e.g. brightness, particle size, Hegman grind, oil absorption, etc.) and on the other side the typical filler chemical characteristics. In addition to such data, the TDS usually includes information on available packaging, manufacturer data as well as data on the general characteristics of the raw material.

Example of TDS on Minex fillers (nepheline syenite)

Safety Data Sheet – SDS, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet), a document specifying the principles of safe handling of a given raw material, describing all hazards in relation to human and the environment, and guidelines for the safe use of the raw material, waste disposal, neutralization of spills, fires, etc. samples, with which each production operator and laboratory employee should be familiar with and use the personal protective equipment contained therein, and prepared for safe handling of the raw material. Depending on the country, this document may contain different local regulations, however, its standard formula clearly defines how the pictograms (GHS, HMIS, NFPA704), S (safety) and H (hazards) phrases are to be presented. For example, selected three SDS pages for Eastman TXIB Formulation Additive are shown below, where you can see the presented data on the pictograms GHS, HMIS, NFPA704 and the characteristics described in sections 1-5 and 16.

Screen of three sample pages from Eastman TXIB Formulation Additive SDS

Certificate of Analysis – CoA, it is a document delivered with the supply of raw materials, although also often with samples of raw materials for testing, and concerns a specific batch in which the quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) departments have determined, through laboratory tests, the parameters that are guaranteed in the specification of a given raw material. For polymer dispersions this is usually viscosity, pH, non-volatile content, and for other raw materials, e.g. fillers, particle size distribution, moisture, etc. CoA is an important document for batch repeatability control and batch-to-batch quality assurance.

And what’s next…?

The next step of using both start point formulations, case studies and gudeline formulations is to prepare your own samples, modify the formulation, conduct tests and draw conclusions. It is very important that the tests are carried out in a standardized manner on laboratory equipment that allows obtaining results and evaluations in the form of numbers, and not subjective feelings, which is especially important at the initial stages of formulating recipes.

Slurries at the Spektrochem Paint Technical Center prepared for the development of start point formulations

Gaining experience and building knowledge based on own recipe trials, professional literature, technical articles, participation in conferences, webinars, short courses and other forms of expanding knowledge about raw materials is a constant development program for a formulator who wants to freely navigate the world of raw materials and latex paint formulations

Laboratory tests of prepared samples with various raw materials during tests in the QUV chamber to assess the impact on artificial accelerated weathering (UV + temperature + moisture & water)

On the other hand, conducting tests of prepared samples in a laboratory in accordance with high quality standards, such as ASTM International, allows for reliable and authoritative results, the comparison of which can be consulted with various specialists around the world. Using ASTM standards and laboratory equipment working in accordance with them allows for repeatable and reproducible repetition of test results obtained in the same way as described in case studies or gudeline formulations.

The architectural paint laboratory, which is the heart of the Spektrochem Paint Technical Center, prepares each of the case studies, ladder studies, gudeline formulations and start point formulations mentioned in this article for producers of raw materials for water-based architectural paints. The extensive materials and technical reports we develop include formulations, photos, charts and we also provide coating samples after testing to support the process of introducing raw materials to markets around the world. Our contribution to the promotion of knowledge about raw materials in the form of publications in coating magazines (PCI magazine, PPCJ, European Coatings Journal, Coatings World), through the blog and our YT channel, complements the commercially conducted projects that we implement for our clients … to make paint formulating process much easier.

Published by Artur Palasz

Scientist, paint formulator and testing expert.

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