“I recently read the Additives Issue of PCI. This is an excellent contribution to the literature of additives and should be of good benefit to those in the coatings and plastics industry. As a matter of fact, I put this issue on reserve for my Polymer Chemistry class at Indiana University.”

The above quote is but one of many we have received over the past years and sums up the benefits of this handbook rather well. We all know that additives impart critical properties to a coatings formulation, but we seldom focus on those properties and tend to forget the major role that additives play. Our attention is usually centered on the major compositional materials in a coating – the polymers, pigments and the solvent if formulating a liquid coating. We use additives to fine-tune formulas, to provide better application properties, and quite often to correct for a problem that has arisen because of a prior improper use of another additive.

Considering that additives are used in rather miniscule quantities, it is sometimes a big surprise to find that they can cause major coating problems if not used properly. When they are used properly they provide tremendous beneficial properties, which is also amazing, as additives are typically used in very small quantities. Some additives are so multifunctional that it is difficult to grasp their true nature.

The key to formulation is to understand the function of an additive in terms of its chemical or physical nature and to understand its behavior in the presence of other components in the coatings formulation. Without a doubt that is much easier said than done. Many of our additives are just used as “trade names” and we often don’t even know much about their chemical composition or how they might behave – or misbehave – in a given formulation. A majority of coatings failure problems can be laid at the doorstep of an additive that has been misused.

Each year we have been adding more information to the Additives Guide, contained in this issue of PCI, so that it will provide a superb source of concise information regarding additives. The growth in nanotechnology and the emphasis on smart coatings poses a problem with respect to this guide, as it is not so simple to categorize additives and know where to include some of the newer technologies. For example, we have added a section called nanotechnology and cross-referenced it to other areas.

Raw material suppliers are very good at helping formulators and providing them guidelines with respect to the materials they provide. The problem, however, is that a single-source guide focused solely on additives was needed. That was our intent when we started this endeavor six years ago and in providing this latest issue. The authors of this guide were not fortunate enough to have such a resource available years ago. Hopefully, what we have learned from our own experience and what we have culled together in this guide will be of value to the coatings industry today.

Will Rogers said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” I know that I can personally vouch for the veracity of the above statement, and perhaps this applies to some of our experience with the use of additives. So use this guide and please feel free to send us material to be included in our next issue. This guide will also be available for purchase on a CD – see our website, www.pcimag.com, for more details.