The 42nd Annual International Waterborne, High Solids and Powder Coatings Symposium was held February 8-13 in at the New Orleans Sheraton. The event, sponsored by the School of Polymers and High-Performance Materials at The University of Southern Mississippi, had over 300 attendees, 53 technical presentations, short courses, a poster session, a panel discussion on architectural coatings and a technology showcase with 20 tabletop exhibitors. The technical presentations came from both students and professors from a variety of universities, as well as experts from many suppliers to the industry. Eleven undergraduate student posters were presented, as well as 13 graduate student posters.

PCI Magazine was proud to sponsor a three-presentation session on Emerging Technologies, which included “How to Handle the GHS Conversion Challenge,” by Bob Richard, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Labelmaster Services; “Nanodiamond Modification of Surface Coatings to Improve Wear and Friction Properties,” by Jim Mariano of Carbodeon; and “Ultrasonic, Acoustically Assisted Inline Drying for Waterborne Wood Coatings,” by Jason Lye, Chief Technical Officer for Heat Technologies Inc.

The Plenary speaker was Rigoberto Advincula, Professor, Macromolecular Science and Engineering at CASE Western Reserve University. Dr. Advincula spoke on “Nanostructured and Smart Coatings.” His research interests are the design, synthesis and characterization of polymers and nanostructured materials capable of controlled assembly, tethering and self-organization in ultrathin films. He noted that it is useful to think that coatings are essentially nanoscopic phenomena that have been translated to macroscopic visibility.

The Keynote Address, “Electrochemical Investigations in the Development of High Performance Coatings,” was given by Victoria Gelling, Technical Director in Performance Coatings at The Valspar Corp. Before her time at Valspar, Dr. Gelling was an Associate Professor in the Department of Coatings and Polymeric Materials at North Dakota State University. Because of her background, one of her areas of focus is to take techniques used at the academic level and apply them to industry.

Dr. Gelling discussed the use of electrochemical techniques to study changes in material properties, which often occur prior to visual changes and provide information regarding corrosion mechanisms. Historically, corrosion and coatings research has been a visual study. For example, in ASTM B117, Standard Test Method of Salt Spray Testing, one of the most widely used corrosion experiments, many users visually interpret scribe creepage or blister density. Electrochemical methods are non-destructive, are very quantitative in nature and can detect a change in the coating within 24 hours, long before any visual change would happen. By using these techniques, such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, scanning electrochemical microscopy and scanning vibrating electrode technique, important mechanistic information regarding protection/failure changes can be determined.  

 Many thanks to the folks at Waterborne for an informative event. I enjoyed the symposium and networking opportunities.