EU round up – Promoting paint and coatings research

15 November 2011

As the European Union (EU) debates the cost and orientation of its next multi-billion Euro and eighth framework programme for research, the European Commission has been releasing success stories about previous EU studies helping the paint and coatings sector.

The programme, which would run from 2014-2020 could have as much as E80bn to spend, which private coatings companies could bid for, as long as they formed international research consortia focused on particular research topics.

Brussels, in the past month, has released three dossiers on successful EU-funded coatings research projects. First, the ‘Economical and ecological high quality painting at highly scalable batch sizes’ (Eco2Painter) project developed new technology for self-programming painting robots enabling eco-efficient, high-quality painting, up to 100 times faster than conventional methods and able to use much smaller batches. The technology uses sensors studying and deconstructing the object to be painted.

A second was the EU-funded ‘Innovative PVD nano-coatings on tools for machining titanium and nickel alloys’ (Matina) project developing high-tech coatings to extend the life of cutting-tools, speed machining and reduce or eliminate the use of lubricants and coolants when producing nickel and titanium parts. This involved the use of a PVD (physical vapour deposition) coating applied by magnetron sputtering on cutting tools.

Another project, ‘Numerical modelling/lifetime prediction of delamination polymer coating disbonding and material degradation’ (Degradation Modelling) studied ways to counter corrosion of coated items, developing software to predict how and when the problem might occur to improve product and coating design and application. The project exploited information on underfilm corrosion, including surface treatment, coating, sealer, topcoat and environmental issues.

Meanwhile, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has promised to make transparency and protecting against conflicts of interest, when issuing its technical guidance, a priority, adopting new guidelines and policies on these issues. And ECHA has warned industries such as the paints and coatings sector to prepare for the next key registration deadline under the EU chemical control system REACH. This falls on May 31, 2013 and it covers companies manufacturing or importing chemicals in quantities at or above 100t/year.

Also, the EU Council of Ministers has extended, until June 2013 the official authorisation for ecological manufacturing standards criteria for outdoor paints and varnishes, enabling companies to attach an EU eco-label to their products. The current authorisation lapsed in August.

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