Three paint manufacturers and the Federal Highway Administration, a large user of paint products, have joined the National Institute of Standards and Technology in a cooperative research and development consortium to help get new, highly predictable products more quickly to market.
In addition to NIST and FHWA, consortium participants are DuPont Automotive, Troy, Mich.; Duron Inc., Beltsville, Md.; and Pittsburgh Plate and Glass Industries Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
The group's goal is to find a better way to predict the service life of paint. Because of health and environmental concerns, the chemical makeup and manufacturing process of paints have changed tremendously over the past decade. Unlike older paints, new formulas do not have a well-established history of performance, says Jonathan Martin, leader of the organic building materials group in NIST's Building and Fire Research Laboratory.
"Reliable methods of predicting performance have not kept pace with the rapid changes," says Martin. "Current methods rely heavily on outdoor exposure tests that are time consuming, and, since the weather is never the same day to day or year to year, are difficult to duplicate and do not provide a uniformly reliable prediction of long-term performance."
As a result, potential problems with painted products, including cars and buildings, could cost manufacturers millions of dollars to repair.
The consortium's main project will be to develop a test method that will quickly and reliably predict the service life of a painted product exposed to the elements. Sunlight, temperature and wetness are the prime weathering factors that determine how paint will perform. "We believe we can determine scientifically what happens to a painted product exposed to the outdoors and reproduce that degradation process in the lab. The result will be a faster test that will allow manufacturers to comfortably predict the lifetime of a coating from laboratory results alone," says Martin.
NIST and the other consortium members also will work together to tailor a weathering test program for each member's needs. In addition, NIST will develop a menu-driven, user- friendly software system to help weathering laboratories design experiments, test assumptions, fit models to the data and analyze the data.
The consortium is expected to last for three years. Membership will be open until Sept. 10, 1994. After that time, new members will be admitted only with NIST's consent after consultation with consortium members. New members may have limited rights. Membership fees are $30,000 annually. For information on joining the consortium, contact Martin, B348 Building Research Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, (301) 975-6717.
NIST has participated in over 400 cooperative research and development agreements since 1988. CRADAs typically cover joint research efforts in which both NIST and the cooperating company provide staff, equipment, facilities and/or funds, in any number of possible combinations, for a project of mutual interest.
An agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.