I know with the above title I have your attention for a few moments. In one of our features this month the author likens some people using UV measurement to a drunk using a light post – “more for support than illumination.”
I know with the above title I have your attention for a few moments. In one of our features this month the author likens some people using UV measurement to a drunk using a light post – “more for support than illumination.” He extrapolates to the value of a coating if formulas were expressed in uncertain units using irreproducible tools – just “add some photoinitiator to a little bit of monomer and mix it for a while.” Or how about just add some pigment to a polymer and stir it up and use – maybe add a few additives if it doesn’t look quite right. This approach works for some of the good old-fashioned and terrific cooks who never seemed to measure anything when baking and cooking, but we all know it doesn’t work for formulating a coating.
Certainly the use of accurate and precise measurement techniques and understanding their value is a source of illumination – not just support. We sometimes tend to overlook the value of the analytical testing and measurement tools involved in coating development. Accurate measurement and testing is not a value-added item – these are absolute necessities. Quality control measurements are equally of value, as they often can determine potential problems and certainly spot production inconsistencies which, in turn, can cause field failure. In this issue and in upcoming issues we are including more features regarding measurement and testing and the value they bring to coatings – from both a development and problem-solving aspect.
But the critical component is not just the measurement technique and the accuracy of the data – the key is in understanding what the data means, i.e., evaluation of the data parameters in terms of the total coating and its intended use, function and longevity – illumination. In today’s industrial environment, our labor force is doing more work with less time and resources. If we don’t spend adequate resources in innovative R&D we will lose out to competition in the long term; if we do increase resources the obvious factor is cost in an atmosphere where cost cutting prevails. The proverbial Catch 22! The pressure is placed on the developmental lab to produce and be innovative in shorter time frames and with fewer resources, or certainly less testing and evaluation. This can be a dangerous path for our future both in coatings and in all areas of technology. If you follow the nanotechnology news items in our e-newsletter – Insider News – you will have noted how much global funding is directed toward nanotechnology; a significant portion is in countries we once would not have considered a competitive threat. There are large nanotechnology conferences annually in all major countries. We must invest resources in new technology to be competitive.
The November issue of PCI will stress innovative developments in raw materials, green technology and long-term performance/sustainability. We want to include emerging technologies that contribute to the advancement of the industry. This is achieved through many avenues of R&D. All we need to be certain of is that we are being illuminated along the way and not just using the light posts for support. One of my favorite people, Albert Einstein, said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” How appropriate for the times we live in!
The Drunk and the Light Post
Darlene Brezinski, Ph.D., is the Technical Editor of PCI.
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