New Developments are Focusing on Aqueous Coatings
Sustainable solutions are driving R&D in wood coatings
According to Steffen Romanski, head of global end use wood at BYK, a significant global trend in the wood coatings segment is demand for more sustainable ingredients. He projects that additives based on renewable resources are gaining importance and sees a trend toward further automatization to address current and future challenges.
What are the trends in raw materials for furniture coatings?
Steffen Romanski: Besides the ongoing demand for superior performance, raw materials that offer improved protective properties like stain resistance or anti-metal mark effects, and universal ingredients that enable coating manufacturers to simplify their supply chain are gaining importance. Another significant global trend is the need for more sustainable ingredients that reduce environmental impact. This complements recent industry trends to more sustainable, environmentally friendly wood-like substrates made from bio wastes that are now commercially viable. The most important aspect for sustainable coatings is that they must not compromise performance – this is where additives can contribute their full potential.
How sustainable are wood coatings today, and how can raw materials help?
Romanski: Globally, solvent-borne wood coatings still have a more than 50% market share, but we observe that new developments are focusing on aqueous coatings, or solvent-free coatings like 100% radiation-curing systems. Within all coating technologies, there is a strong trend toward ingredients that do not contain chemicals like heavy metals, silicone cycles, or fluorine. Looking at the carbon footprint of wood coatings, the use of bio-based materials is an important factor that is of increasing importance. Additives based on renewable resources like wetting and dispersing additives, waxes, and defoamers are gaining importance to help manufacturers reduce the carbon footprint of their coatings.
Within all coating technologies, there is a strong trend toward ingredients that do not contain chemicals like heavy metals, silicone cycles, or fluorine.
What are the main challenges for wood coatings R&D?
Romanski: Emerging regulations pose a big challenge for the development of wood coatings. Globally, regulations differ from region to region, and it is often challenging to find one product that is universally compliant for all regions. As a globally active company, we have regional regulatory experts dedicated to ensuring the compliance of our products to all major registrations and labeling requirements. In North America, labor shortages threaten manufacturing. To circumvent future issues, trends favor automation. Automated processes mostly include high-shear forces and accelerated finishing times, so more dynamic and efficient additives are needed to provide high-performance features for modern wood coatings.