The top challenges facing the wax and additives industry today undoubtedly include environmental regulation concerns and sustainability considerations. Nevertheless, also present at the top of the list of challenges and concerns are cost and performance. The demand for high performance while still providing a low cost is indeed very relevant and important in today’s market.
In a recent study by Jiang et al,1 the authors discuss new polymer binder technologies developed for water-based architectural coatings. The new polymer binder technologies are essentially based on colloidal self-assembly of molecules designed to improve coating performance and reduce VOCs. Another name for this design approach, which involves the organization of molecules at an interface, is the bottom-up approach. Inherent in this approach is the challenge of directing the position of molecules over large areas. While there has been some progress in the development of new binder technologies based on self-assembly in coatings, one should also be aware that a bottom-up approach also exists for designing coatings with tailored surface functionality using wax additives. This approach may offer a more cost-efficient solution depending on the application since only a small amount, based on the total formula weight, is typically required (as low as 1-2 wt.%). Bottom-up design of coatings from an additive perspective involves proper choice of wax chemistry (which determines the surface-enhancing physical properties), as well as consideration of the mobility of the wax additive to the surface of the coating. Moreover, appropriate testing to prove performance (which can also be used as a development tool) is crucial in the bottom-up design of waxes in coatings that are both cost efficient and have a desired target performance.