Ben Franklin said “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Truer words could not be spoken regarding our knowledge of additives.

Ben Franklin said “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Truer words could not be spoken regarding our knowledge of additives.

There is no doubt that regulatory change, increased consumer awareness and sustainability issues have challenged the industry over the last three decades. That challenge has led to the development of multifunctional additives that are expected to increase coating performance as manufacturers increasingly turn toward waterborne, powder, low-energy-cure systems and new raw materials that are more compliant.

For years the focus within the industry was on the major compositional materials – polymers, pigments and solvents – with additives playing a necessary role but not receiving prominent attention. Additives were used more as problem solvers to overcome defects, enable paint manufacturing, provide ease of application and improve film quality. Today their role is quite different – additives have had to compensate for changes in solvent use, trends toward high-solids coatings, increased use of waterborne technology and the introduction of a new generation of polymer and pigment technology. As one looks at the papers being presented at recent industry events, and the coatings show exhibits, it becomes apparent that additives are critical and key formulation components. They always have been, but in today’s environment they are receiving the focused attention they justly deserve.

Formulators need to rely on the expertise of the raw material manufacturer – they know their products best and, since many additives are proprietary, only the manufacturer can provide formulation information. We use many additives as “trade names” and don’t know much about their chemical composition or how they may perform in a given formulation. Many coating failures can be laid on the doorstep of an additive that has been misused. It is imperative to be working with the additive supplier when formulating a new coating. However, they can only provide information on their own products, which is why a single-source guide to additives in general and a working definition of their function is so important. The authors of this handbook were not fortunate enough to have this type of resource available years ago. What we have learned from our own experience and what we have culled together in this guide will hopefully be of value to the industry.

PCI has been adding more information to the Additives Handbook each year with the intent of providing a superb source of concise information regarding additives. It is becoming more difficult to categorize many of the additives on the market, as many of them have become multifunctional in nature. That, along with the growth of nanotechnology, creates a challenge in putting the handbook together, but we have tried to cross reference as much as possible. We ask you to send us material that we may have inadvertently omitted – particularly if there are categories that we have not incorporated. Our goal is to continue to provide you with the best comprehensive source of additive information.

In this June issue, we have chosen to publish a portion of the definitions that are included in our annual Additives Handbook, in order to give our readers an idea of how informative and thorough the definitions are. The complete Additives Handbook can be viewed online at (listed under Resources). The Additives Handbook, plus a directory of additives suppliers and distributors, is also available on CD for under $30. For purchase information, contact Andrea Kropp at, or fax back the order form that can be found at