Editor's View

Rodger Talbert Editorial Director

On September 11, 2001, this country was dealt a blow unlike anything we have known. Many nations and peoples have experienced suffering and atrocities, but it is hard to conceive of a more inhuman and cowardly act, a deliberate attempt to inflict pain and break the will of a people.

Today, we look at the world differently and we have changes in our daily lives, but we are still essentially the same as we were before the terrorist events of September 11. We are builders, not destroyers. We know how to make things, and we like to do it. We are especially good at fixing things or improving on old designs. Few things give us more pleasure than making something new and better out of something that is broken. The World Trade Center and the lives that were affected by the terrorists cannot be replaced, but that will not stop us from rebuilding and making something new to replace what is gone.

The rebuilding has begun with the reconstruction of the subway station that runs under the WTC site. It is an interesting story of engineering, energy and manpower, hard work and dedication. And like all stories of building, it involves finishing. A coating is added to almost every product and structure for appearance and durability. The steel beams that are being used to reconstruct the subway station are no exception. The steel will support the structure, but it must have the proper coating to last. We thought it would be fitting to share the story of this project with you and talk about the process of rebuilding from the perspective of a coater.

Coatings play a key role in our daily lives, but even experienced coating applicators often take them for granted. How much value does the coating add to the product? Although the answer varies with different products and coating materials, it cannot be denied that without the coating many products could not be sold or would not last. What would a car be without paint? It would be a pile of rust unless it was made of stainless steel. How would we recognize a John Deere tractor without the distinctive yellow and green coating?

How excited would we be about our new Harley motorcycle or Trek bicycle if they did not have distinctive colors and started rusting as soon as we got them out on the road? The coating provides the look that helps sell the product and the protection that makes it last. The truth is, without a good coating, many of the products we enjoy would not be of much value.

Many of the substrate materials that we commonly use would not be practical without a coating. Imagine a stereo cabinet made of medium density fiberboard with no coating. Imagine a gas grille that rusted after its first summer of use or an aluminum chair with white oxide all over it after the first rainfall of the season. The fact is, coatings are a critical part of the success of a product.

In a way, the story of the subway beams is not unlike any description of manufacturing and applying a coating to a product. The average person sees it and uses it but really has no idea how it got there or the role the coating plays in longevity and structural integrity. In another way, this is a coating story that has a special meaning to us all. We were deeply hurt by the loss, but we celebrate the rebuilding.