Product & Process Innovations

Axalta’s products provide the most tangible illustrations of the sustainability benefits that we deliver to our customers and to the environment that we strive to conserve and protect. The formulations of both our liquid and powder coatings as well as the systems to apply those products contribute to these goals. We offer a series of case studies that showcase the positive impact that Axalta coatings and application systems can have on our customers’ products and our customers’ productivity while reducing the overall environmental footprint of our coatings.

Sustainable Powder Coatings

For decades, powder coating technologies have been heralded for their low environmental footprint. Powder coatings emit virtually no volatile organic compounds or targeted hazardous air pollutants. Recently, Axalta has taken powder coating technology to the next level by also developing formulations and application systems that provide benefits — from increased production cycle time to reduced emissions — to our customers, to their customers, and to the environment.

Case Studies

Preserving Coatings From Unwelcome Paint

Graffiti vandalism costs public and private property owners billions of dollars every year in cleanup, repair, and replacement costs as well as reputational damage. Removing graffiti from surfaces coated with traditional paint or that are untreated can be time consuming and costly. Alesta® AP’s Anti-Graffiti Outdoor powder coatings are formulated to make graffiti removal fast and effective, returning property to pristine condition with minimal effort. Both time and material resources can be saved when graffiti removal is facilitated rather than striping and recoating a surface.

Dark Can Cool as Well as Light

Approximately 50 percent of solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface consists of infrared light that can significantly warm the earth. Building surfaces, particularly those made of metal, absorb the radiation and transfer that heat to building interiors. This increases the need for air-conditioning systems and the energy necessary to power them in warmer months and tropical climates. Higher surface temperatures also stress the metal substrate of the facade and degrade the aesthetics and longevity of the coating.

RAL 9005 Cool VS RAL 9016 Regular

Dark Can Cool as Well as Light

The effects of heat are exacerbated by the color of the surface. Dark color paint reflects less sunlight, resulting in warmer building interiors and exterior material surfaces alike. A reduction in surface temperature reverses these effects, lowering the mechanical stress imposed on the metal. This improves color stability, gloss retention, and the mechanical properties of the coating. In architectural applications, temperature reduction of coated surfaces helps to lower the energy needed for cooling buildings in hot climates, which saves energy and helps the environment. But, the use of lighter-colored finishes is not always desirable for aesthetic, maintenance, and security reasons, and this presented challenges when darker colors were needed.

In response to these customer challenges, Axalta developed an innovative solution for reducing heat transfer to metal. The Alesta® Cool™ range of powder coatings is formulated to reduce heat transfer with darker colors, reducing the total solar reflection and heat transfer by as much as 20 percent and reducing surface temperature by as much as 20°C. For example, Axalta’s Black Ral 9005 Alesta Cool powder coating performs as effectively in reducing heat absorption as a standard Alesta white Ral 9010 product. Lower building surface and interior temperatures reduce energy costs associated with cooling and help increase the lifespan of the coating on the structure.

Alesta Cool on tour in Barcelona

Making Wheels Shine

Regulations increasingly limit the use of traditional technologies involved in the automotive industry. The beautiful chrome effects that are reminiscent of early model cars are no exception. The environmental impact of the chrome plating technology traditionally used to give wheels and other parts their classic look has come under increased scrutiny by regulators.

Vacuprime® powder primers offer a revolutionary technology that provides a foundation for a bright chrome appearance, comparable to traditional chrome plating, without the use of hexavalent chrome plating baths or the need to sand, buff, and polish rough castings. There are virtually no VOCs or hazardous air pollutants used or generated in the process. Facilities that have adopted this process do not require environmental permits typically associated with chrome plating to operate. In addition to environmental benefits, the use of Vacuprime technology can also significantly reduce the weight of the finished part when compared to chrome plating or chrome cladding finishes. Lighter vehicles improve fuel efficiency.

The chrome-look technology is achieved using a four-step process that offers an economic and environmentally responsible alternative to chrome plating or chrome cladding while continuing to meet the stringent original equipment manufacturers’ test requirements for durability.

Reducing the environmental impact of liquid coatings

Axalta paints are evolving to reduce the environmental footprint of our liquid coatings. Following increased regulations to reduce VOC emissions, based on public and internal data we estimate that as many as 70 percent of all vehicle assembly paint lines that use some type of integrated paint application system use waterborne coatings. The remaining paint systems are expected to use paint formulas, referred to as high solids, that contain a higher proportion of non-volatile components such as pigments and resins. VOC emissions can be reduced by up to 50 percent by converting paint lines to either waterborne or higher solids systems.

Axalta is a market leader with close to 30 percent of the global waterborne coating market. In 2015, approximately 3.5 million vehicles in 31 automotive assembly plants operated by many of the world’s leading light vehicle manufacturers were painted using low-VOC coatings applied with Axalta’s Harmonized Coating Technologies. These included both newly constructed manufacturing plants and those that were reconfigured to accommodate waterborne paint.

Case Studies

Waterborne Impregnating Resins

With air quality concerns continuing to be a major issue in China, every industry, whether regulated or not, is looking for ways to make a positive difference. This is true for Axalta and our customers served by our Energy Solutions business, too.

China has one of the largest electronics manufacturing industries in the world. Axalta supplies impregnating resins, wire enamels, and electrical steel coating products to support this important industry. Even though not required to reduce emissions by regulations, our customers sought ways to reduce solvent emissions, which can lead to ozone formation, from their manufacturing processes. Axalta scientists stepped in to formulate a new series of waterborne impregnating resins, now being sold under the VoltahydeTM brand name.

Axalta introduced Voltahyde 2250 T, an amino chemistry-based waterborne impregnating resin for small electronic transformer applications, and Voltahyde 2250 E, an epoxy-based waterborne impregnating resin for very small motor applications. Both provide drastic reductions in VOC content. Axalta is working closely with multiple customers to ensure a smooth introduction of these products so that all performance requirements are met and customers are able to use water-based products in facilities with equipment originally designed to apply solventborne coatings.

Reducing VOCs for Trucks in China

In China, regulations specify that new vehicle assembly plants be engineered to use waterborne coatings by incorporating stainless steel and other materials into their designs. Axalta has been instrumental in helping customers meet increased demands from automotive and commercial vehicle manufacturers in China for waterborne coatings that are formulated to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds.

In 2014, Axalta worked closely with Foton Daimler, a leading manufacturer of heavy duty trucks in China, to provide the first full layer waterborne coating system in China. The new process reduced VOC emissions at the plant by an estimated 70 percent compared to conventional coatings and met the strict environmental regulations established in 2015 by the city of Beijing. The technology in Axalta’s waterborne system provided the superior coating quality and durable color finish demanded by the customer to stand up to the tough conditions its trucks encounter on the road.

Reducing VOCs for Trucks in China

Saving time and energy coating trucks

Imron® is one of Axalta’s most widely used coatings among manufacturers of commercial vehicles such as heavy duty trucks, buses, and rail stock. In 2015, Axalta introduced the latest Imron products to help customers reduce cycle time and save energy while providing a premium, durable finish. The formulation of Imron Elite EY basecoat and 8890S clear coat makes it easier to sand and polish after curing and to resist the effects of mud and acid rain on the road while providing an outstanding appearance.

The enhanced chemistry of the system enables customer manufacturing sites to benefit from improved product attributes. Customers are able to reduce the cycle time required to cure coatings by up to 33 percent, from a typical duration of 30 minutes to 20 minutes per vehicle. Further, using improved chemistry, it is also possible to reduce the curing temperature from 180°F to 160°F. When both the effects of reduced bake time and temperature are considered, sites have been able to claim significant reductions in CO2 emissions and realize energy savings from reduced energy consumption of approximately 40 percent.

The cycle time improvement of 10 fewer minutes for curing also has allowed sites to reduce bottlenecks in the paint shop and increase productivity. For example, one site was able to produce an extra eight units per shift because of increased line speed.

Lower temperature curing also makes Imron Elite EY and 8890S ideal for non-metal components that cannot be exposed to traditional high temperature curing and are used with increasing frequency to reduce vehicle weight and energy consumption by increasing the fuel economy of cars and light trucks.

Imron EY Benefits

Imron EY Benefits

Reducing the Impact of Coating Application

The paint application process is one of the most time-consuming and capital-intensive steps in vehicle manufacture. Axalta’s Harmonized Coating Technologies™ (HCT) provide automobile manufacturers with a variety of start-to-finish systems for the application of each layer of paint and is designed to improve productivity while reducing VOC emissions, energy consumption, and the cost of the plant and equipment.

Axalta’s 3-Wet system, one of the company’s HCTs, eliminates some of these steps. Traditional paint application processes use high-temperature and costly ovens to cure each layer of paint: a primer, a basecoat that provides the color, and a final clear topcoat that protects the finish from the elements. The first paint layer applied using 3-Wet provides the properties of a primer and is formulated to be effective in an exceptionally thin coat. After application, a high-temperature curing oven is replaced with a brief passage through a low or even ambient temperature zone. A colored basecoat is then applied while the first coat is still wet, and the clear topcoat can be applied before the basecoat has dried. While energy, time, and capital costs are saved, optimal control of the interfaces between the paint layers ensures that the paint finish continues to meet premium appearance standards.

Because of the benefits from reduced plant emissions that 3-Wet offers car manufacturers and the environment in communities where manufacturing facilities are located, we estimate that about 20 percent of the worldwide light vehicle production will be painted using such a process by 2020.


Advantages of 3-Wet Waterborne System

Eliminating an oven to dry the primer reduces the length of a paint shop by more than 1,000 feet. Axalta primers reduce the need for costly robot applicators by as much as 50 percent.

Reducing the environmental impact of vehicle production

AquaEC Goes Tin-free

Electrocoats provide the first layer of protection against corrosion for metal used in vehicle production and a variety of industrial applications. Axalta’s next generation AquaEC™ electrocoats provide the next step in sustainability. Our leading-edge electrocoat technology offers advancements in product performance for extending the lifespan of the coated substrates, as well as product and process efficiencies that reduce material use, costs, and environmental impacts.

Electrocoat adheres to metal through electrodeposition. The metal being coated is submersed in a tank of E-Coat, which receives opposite electric charges creating an attraction through which the coating adheres to the metal. AquaEC offers improved throw power — the ability of the E-Coat to reach and cover all parts of the metal substrate — which allows for interior film builds to be maintained at the customer’s required level while reducing the overall exterior thickness. Reductions in material use of up to 20 percent have been achieved.

AquaEC E-Coats have evolved to keep pace with the automotive industry’s adoption of more lightweight materials, specifically aluminum. Lighter weight vehicles help increase vehicle fuel efficiency. AquaEC E-Coats have been formulated to provide enhanced corrosion performance and extend material lifespan for such lighter weight materials.

The benefits of AquaEC products are also achieved with a tin-free product. Removing tin facilitates global compliance with emerging regulatory trends such as new requirements in the EU that will restrict the use of tin and heavy metals.

A crystal clear coat from Axalta

One goal of collision repair shops is to repair and repaint as many vehicles as possible in a limited amount of time. One coating layer that has presented time constraints has been the final topcoat — the clear coating that provides not only the shine on a vehicle but the layer that protects the underlying paint from mars, ultraviolet radiation, and the harsh effects of weather.

After extensive research, Axalta’s scientists found a solution in a novel resin technology that can be mixed for application quickly and that dries and hardens faster than traditional clearcoat formulations. A new patented technology platform has been developed and adapted for selected Axalta brands that enables the final coat to dry not only more quickly but at lower temperatures, reducing energy use and associated CO2 emissions which helps to reduce the environmental impact of the coating application process.

Introduced in Europe during 2014 for use in the formulation of Axalta’s three premium brands, the proprietary resin technology of the fast-cure low-energy clearcoat provides superior performance and ultrahigh productivity without compromising appearance and ease of application. It can be applied in 1.5 passes of the spray gun, which reduces the quantity of material used and the time needed to apply it, while providing an even flow and a brilliant finish with extraordinary gloss levels. It can be used in regions where VOC emissions are tightly regulated, including the requirements of EU Directive 2004/42/EC.

Mirror-like finish of novel clearcoat chemistry.