A line of high-performance dispersing agents addresses common concerns faced by industrial and automotive paint formulators

There’s something about that perfect shade of paint on a brand-new car — whether it’s a pearlescent white or chromatic red or jet-black with blue undertones — that makes it all the more fun to drive.

Formulators are constantly working to create the latest shades for the personalization automotive consumers crave. With the sheer variety of pigments and effects in demand, their shelves tend to get overcrowded with all the dispersing agents, defoamers and other additives they need to make high-performing paints.

Automotive paint formulation is often a balancing act between qualities such as performance, stability and efficiency, to name a few. BASF’s line of EFKA® additives for solvent-based formulations simplifies the process with systems that proffer all those key characteristics and, in some cases, minimize the quantity of additives needed to achieve peak performance.

Complexity and color choice

When automotive paint formulators want to mix up coatings in a variety of shades and sheens, the goal is simple — give customers more choices. However, the process can get complicated.

That’s because paint pigments differ based on the weight, size and distribution of molecules, so formulators typically need a variety of dispersants and other additives to create all the different coatings they have on offer.

“Traditionally, if formulators are working with high-chroma or high-performance pigments — pigments like cyanine blue or quinacridone red — they may need a specialized type of dispersing agent that is higher in molecular weight,” says Anthony Moy, Technical Specialist for Formulation Additives at BASF.

Carbon black, on the other hand, is a demanding pigment that typically requires more dispersant to properly disperse molecules and achieve the right color qualities.

Considering the complexity involved in mixing different pigments under one operation, many automotive paint companies need ways to streamline their processes, reduce SKUs and cut costs.

“There’s a drive for simplicity, being able to use one dispersing agent across a broad gambit rather than having a separate one for each type of pigment,” Moy explains.

To help formulators tackle that challenge, BASF recommends a universal dispersant with the versatility to handle a broad multitude of coating formulations: EFKA PX 4753. 

The dispersing agent boasts high performance, particularly in pigment concentrate formulations based on LAROPAL® A 81. It helps formulators achieve high color strength and high pigment loading at a lower mill base viscosity.

The case for solvent-based

Although their needs vary, the automotive and industrial arenas both have demanding performance standards for coatings. Those standards are sometimes at odds with a manufacturer’s desire to reduce their VOC emissions or environmental footprint.

Other industries, such as architectural and construction, gravitate towards water-based coatings for reduced emissions. Depending on the manufacturer, many water-based coatings are now advanced enough to provide low to no VOCs with performance comparable to solvent-based systems.

In spaces like automotive and industrial coatings, solvent-borne technologies are still going strong.

“[In automotive and industrial], some of the performance characteristics of solvent-based coatings are not currently achievable with water,” says Randy Brown, Technical Manager for Additives at BASF. “As long as there is a performance demand water can’t meet, solvent-based will still be around.”

“For those formulators that are ecologically-minded, high-solids or 100 percent solids formulations are an excellent alternative,” he adds.

In cases when water-based is not an option, formulators turn to products like EFKA PX 4753 and EFKA PX 4703, a 99 percent active dispersant. EFKA PX 4703 was designed for high-performance inkjet, flexographic ink systems and carbon blacks, though it also works well as a general-purpose dispersant with exceptional viscosity reduction, stability and color strength. 

“When you have close to 100 percent solids, you are helping to minimize your VOCs while enabling a solvent type of system to be used,” Brown explains.

He adds that EFKA products play particularly well in the industrial and automotive markets because they are primarily solvent and solvent-free applications.

A formulation-friendly family of products

For formulators looking to improve properties such as grinding efficiency, color development and transparency, the BASF team recommends EFKA PX 4787. It is a reactive dispersant with benchmark pigment wetting and dispersing efficiency that enables excellent film properties such as solvent resistance and hardness.

Because no two formulations are the same, the EFKA additives line includes a broad portfolio of dispersants, wetting agents, defoamers and rheology modifiers. For those looking to improve their environmental footprint, eco-friendly solutions are also available.

Get in touch with a BASF representative to get started.

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