The newest trend in architectural coatings comes to the U.S. from Asahi Glass Co. of Japan.

One heavy-duty architectural coating - a newcomer to the American market - is starting to garner attention in the fabrication industry. Asahi Glass's Lumiflon was developed in 1982 as the first solvent-soluble fluoropolymer for coatings that can be baked and cured under room temperatures. Since then, fluoro paints based on the Lumiflon raw material have been produced by many paint makers in the U.S. and other countries, and applied successfully to over 150,000 architectural structures worldwide.

Figure 1 / Corrosion Test: Lumiflon Painted Metal

Weatherability, Durability and Longevity

One of the main benefits of Lumiflon is that it extends the life of a coating with chemical units of fluoroethylene, which increase its weatherability by many years. The fluoropolymer's durability prevents corrosion due to elements such as water, oxygen and chlorine (see Figure 1). This means that the cost of repainting, which includes labor, paint, and potential lost business during renovation, is greatly decreased over the lifetime of the paint job. Because of its superior weatherability, the fluoropolymer has a more affordable lifetime cost compared to common hydrocarbon-based coatings on the market today.

"Carboline's industrial primers are known to last 30, 40 and even 50 years. We started to develop a 25-year finish topcoat in 1992. We chose to use Lumiflon resin because only the most durable resins will give that kind of performance," said David Wolf, director of Marketing of Carboline Co. "There are very few resins on the planet that will give you that kind of performance and, in fact, any other added material creates a weak link that compromises the final performance. Carboline's offering, Carboxane 950 Fluorourethane, went through a battery of tests, including QUVA, QUVB, and EMMAQUA, and the test results verified that our offering was indeed a 25-year finish coat. This would not have been possible without the durability of the Lumiflon resin."

Lumiflon is so durable that it was selected to protect numerous bridges, including Tokyo's Rainbow Bridge, the Daiichi Mukaiyama Bridge in Hiroshima, and Japan's Akashi Kaikyo Bridge - one of the world's longest suspension bridges. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge connects mainland Japan to the island of Shikoku and stretches 12,828 feet - 4 times the length of the Brooklyn Bridge. The fluoropolymer has also been used on the Fuji TV Headquarter Office, the NEC building, and all Nippon Airlines airplanes. In October 2000, the bridge coating subcommittee of Japan's Society of Steel Construction determined that Lumiflon-based paints could last 50 years on bridges inland and 30 years by the ocean.

Kendall Smith, Premier Finishes manager with Tnemec Co. has been using Lumiflon for various projects. "Tnemec constantly searches for the most advanced resins to formulate into low-VOC, high-solids, user-friendly coatings," he said. "Since Lumiflon offered the performance our customers were looking for in the areas of color and gloss retention, we incorporated it into one of our most advanced coatings. This coating is very popular for high-profile structures that are in severe UV exposures. One example is a recent project we completed with a hotel and casino in Las Vegas, where there was a need for a coating with long-term performance that could stand up to the Nevada sun. The Lumiflon-based coating was just what we needed."

Curing Options

Lumiflon is available in several kinds of solvents, which opens up a broad choice of coating application processes. While many heavy-duty coatings can only be used with a coil-coating or a baking system, the fluoropolymer has an ambient curing coating system, which allows it to be brushed, rolled, sprayed, used with an air-dry system or as a repair coating over other coating materials, and it can be applied in-factory or on-site. With the right choice of curing agents, Lumiflon can be cured in a range of conditions from room temperature for several days, to high temperatures (over 180 deg C) for a few minutes.

Figure 2 / Gloss Test: EMMAQUA Test

Gloss

Side chains allow the fluoropolymer to have remarkable solubility in organic solvents, and provide a high-gloss finish. According to an accelerated weathering test using the EMMAQUA method of sunlight convergence, Lumiflon retained 80% of its initial gloss after being exposed to radiation of 2.5 million langleys, which is equivalent to 25 years of sunlight exposure (see Figure 2).

"Lumiflon allows us to offer our customers a high performance fluorocarbon finish with a wide variety of colors and glosses," said Paul Grime, Sales and Marketing manager at Mitsubishi Chemical America Inc./ALPOLIC. "In addition, it allows us to create certain unique finishes that would be unattainable without using Lumiflon."

Paint fabricator PPG manufactures a high-gloss coating that is available in bright colors for architectural building products. "This high-performance coatings' resin system is comprised of 100% Lumiflon fluoropolymer resin, which offers exceptional color retention and ultimate resistance to weathering," said Sharon Bird, Marketing Services coordinator of PPG.

Solvency

Lumiflon is available in three types: solvent, water and powder, which opens up a broad choice of coating application processes. In addition, it has been combined with various types of resins to create unique coatings. Lumiflon polymer can be formulated into many types of coatings, thus allowing a variety of coating application processes including baking, spraying, roll-coating, dipping, brushing, and screen printing.

Lumiflon in the United States

While Lumiflon has been used in Japan for over 20 years, it is just beginning to be discovered in the United States and the rest of the world. Some recent U.S. project sites include the new Experience Music Project museum in Seattle, the Hartford Children's Hospital in Connecticut, the Nascar Caf‚ in Orlando, FL, a Silicon Graphics building in California, and the "Escape" roller coaster at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. "Lumiflon's durability and gloss are developing a reputation in this country," said Jim Scott, assistant director of Planning and Marketing for AGA Chemicals Inc. "We're starting to get a lot of American fabricators and architects requesting it for use on buildings in the U.S." In fact, AGA Chemicals is currently in the process of building a Technical Service Center in the United States. The new center will be dedicated to performing qualification test trials, product demonstrations, performance testing, and future product development activities, as well as providing technical assistance to customers.

After spending 20 years in Japan, it seems the United States is embracing Lumiflon as it enters the U.S. market after long last.

For more information on fluoropolymers, contact AGA Chemicals Inc., 2201 Water Ridge Parkway, Suite 400, Charlotte, NC 28217; phone 704/329.7614; visit www.lumiflonusa.com.

Links