By Edison Brito
While the first “paints” came from natural substances like charcoal, blood and berry juice, paints and coatings today are made of a wide variety of highly stylized components using high-tech manufacturing processes. In fact, most major enhancements in paint and coatings manufacturing have taken place in the last 25 years. Spurred by these technology advances, the market has evolved into one of the world’s most diverse and important industries, with paint and coatings vital components for traffic markings, house coatings, automobile exteriors and aluminum cans.
Though the global recession, which hit the new-housing market exceptionally hard, saw paint and coatings markets stagnate in 2007 and 2008, the first signs of an economic rebound included paint-and-coatings revenues growing by 2.1% in 2009 to reach a worldwide value of $110.5 billion. Future growth is expected to see the industry worldwide value grow to $128.6 billion by 2014. Opportunities abound for paint and coatings manufacturers both at home and abroad.
Manufacturing realities dictate production processes be as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. Pumps play a key role in all aspects of paint and coatings manufacture. Increasing operational efficiency by using pumps featuring advanced technology should be front-of-mind for manufacturing-facility operators.
This article will examine current challenges to paint and coatings production processes and how recent technology advances in air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pump technology can help manufacturers control costs, reduce product loss, save energy, optimize uptime performance and meet environmental regulations, all while producing paint and coatings of the highest quality.
Synthetic pigments and stabilizers are commonly used to mass-produce uniform batches of paint. Substances such as polyurethane and styrene-butadene have improved paint and coatings performance. Alkyd resins increase paint strength and life-span. Sand mills and high-speed dispersion mixers easily grind dispersible pigments. New environmentally friendly low-solvent and solvent-less formulations reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, making their production and application safer.
Because of these significant changes in paint and coatings production, their production has become a more refined science. To ensure highest quality standards, paint and coatings manufacturers use robust equipment that offers the flexibility and performance that leads to reliability, product-loss prevention, environmental protection and energy efficiency. Yet it still retains the versatility to handle a wide variety of paint-and-coatings components, all of which have unique handling characteristics.
Manufacturers generally fall into one of two camps: waterborne or solvent-borne producers. Both may use the same binders, pigments and additives, but are different in how they are constructed and perform. Waterborne paints are typically water-based emulsions, while solvent-borne paints are most often oil and/or alkyd-based formulations.
Whether waterborne or solvent-borne, all type paints contain four basic components: pigments (tiny solid particles that enhance the paint’s appearance); binders (combine the paint’s constituents into a solution that cures into a film after application); liquids/solvents (a medium that allows pigment and binder application to the painted surface); and additives (ingredients added to provide specific paint properties, such as thickening, mildew/bacteria resistance, defoaming and others).
This mélange of styles and components producers must use technology versatile enough to handle a dizzying array of components in a way that maximizes production schedules, energy efficiency and product containment, all while meeting strict environmental regulations that govern the release of VOCs and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).
Invented in 1955 by Jim Wilden as the solution for demanding utilitarian pumping applications requiring a robust design, positive displacement air-operated double-diaphragm (AODD) pump technology has become the top choice for liquid-handling and transfer in a wide variety of industries, including paint and coatings manufacture.
AODD pumps allow product flow to stay constant with pump speed, a major consideration in paint and coatings production. Other benefits of AODD technology include its wide range of pressure and flow specifications; self-priming and low-wear operation; ability to handle corrosive and abrasive solutions; improved energy efficiency; and overall low maintenance costs.
In some large paint and coatings manufacturing facilities, upwards of 200 to 300 air-powered pumps may be operating at any one time. Thanks to recent technology advance Wilden Pump & Engineering LLC, Grand Terrace, Calif., has made to its Advanced Series Metal AODD Pumps, there is more reason than ever for those pumps to bear the Wilden name.
Operators incorporate batch operations where the product being manufactured is mixed, then send it to a fill tank and fill line. They also have raw ingredients that are moved off of truck tankers or railcars, transferred to a storage tank, diverted to a mix tank based on the recipe required, moved to a day tank or fill tank and then finally transferred to a filling line. AODD pump technology is used at every step of this process. It is ideal for these applications because:
• Most applications require less than 125 psi
• Shear-sensitive fluids that can’t be agitated are always in use
• Thick, viscous fluids are constantly in motion
• Leak-free operation is paramount
• Dead-heading occurs during filling operations, a task that motor-driven pumps are not able to handle effectively
With these considerations in mind, Wilden offers a complete size range of Advanced Series Bolted AODD pumps. In addition, these pumps now come outfitted with new technologies that make them even more perfectly suited for the manufacture of paint and coatings. These new features include:
Pro-Flo X Air-Distribution System (ADS) –Provides operational flexibility through its patented Efficiency Management System (EMS). Users optimize the ADS for any application demand, regardless of pump size, through dial-controlled flow rate selection.
Bolted Configuration – Gives the pump better leak-containment and sealing properties at higher pressures when compared to traditional clamped configurations.
Full-Stroke PTFE Diaphragms – Results in increased product displacement per stroke, which translates into greater flow rates and higher efficiencies compared to AODD pump brands relying on reduced-stroke PTFE diaphragms.
Drop-in Pump Configuration – Allows installation in an existing footprint without need to disturb the piping. Drop-in pumps have a larger flow path, resulting in increased flowrates and decreased energy consumption compared with competing AODD technology.
Easy Install Wil-Flex Diaphragms –Made of Santoprene, diaphragms are easy to install and are a low-cost alternative to PTFE diaphragms when used in applications that involve abrasives handling. Wilden recently upgraded its Wil-Flex Diaphragms, introducing a flat-profile design that eliminates the need to invert the diaphragm when rebuilding a pump. This design enhancement also increases diaphragm flex life.
Performance of upgraded Wilden Advanced Series pumps also equates into energy savings, as lower amounts of compressed air are needed to maintain desired flow rates and pressures (see Sidebar). All these features combine to make Wilden’s Advanced Series Metal AODD Pumps right for liquid-handling applications in paint and coatings manufacturing operations.
To meet growing challenges, manufacturers — especially those in the paint and coatings industry — are turning to pumping technologies that ensure production quotas are met in the most cost-effective and environmentally sensitive manner possible. Wilden recognizes these challenges in paint and coatings manufacture and developed its AODD pumps, specifically the Advanced Series Metal AODD lines. These pumps offer the best performance in paint and coatings manufacture, to optimize production, energy savings, product containment and environmental consciousness in one of the globe’s most important industries.
Edison Brito is the Wilden Pump & Engineering chemical market development director with Pump Solutions Group (PSG), Downers Grove, Ill. He can be reached at (973) 780-7985 or Edison.Brito@pumpsg.com. Wilden is a member of PSG, comprised of several leading pump brands: Almatec, Blackmer, EnviroGear, Griswold, Mouvex, Neptune, RedScrew and Wilden.