1. What are some of the major challenges and trends that have been impacting the Industrial Coating Marketspace lately?

One main challenge facing our world is the reduction of the carbon footprint with a lot more companies aligning to generate products from renewable sources. There are multiple challenges facing the industry, but particularly two are top of mind. Currently, all companies in the industry are experiencing shortages of some type. Overall, shortages of raw materials prompt companies to find alternatives through innovation. And often times, achieving a relatively close match with a replacement raw material or technology becomes the focus during shortages.

At WACKER, we want to help all of our customers navigate these challenges and find solutions for their applications. We are looking to meet these goals in product development and production by creating carbon-friendly products and renewable materials as much as possible and substituting the use of methanol with biomethanol. In fact, our RHYME program, (Renewable HYdrogen and MEthanol) is focused on the work of decarbonization. With this project, we are aiming to produce green hydrogen and renewable methanol for energy use.

" With innovation, one can get release or adhesion with silicones, increased hardness or flexibility, while maintaining good levels of viscosity and a lower need for solvents "

Sustainability is one of our five corporate strategic goals and we are aiming at providing innovative solutions to the world through sustainable business practices. Over the last few years, a lot of focus has been placed on companies to reduce the VOC (volatile organic compounds) from their operations. A fair number of advancements have been made to generate water-based formulations, however, for some applications, performance fall short to the performance of solvent-based formulations. We believe we will see continuous improvements for water-based systems, but efforts to improve the performance will still take years to maximize.

Can you tell us about the latest project that you have been working on, and what are some of the technological and process elements that you leveraged to make the project successful?

Silicones are extremely flexible when it comes to different performance capabilities. One can get release or adhesion with silicones, increased hardness or flexibility, while maintaining good levels of viscosity and a lower need for solvents. All these modifications can provide a full toolbox for formulators.

The possibilities are just as exciting as they are endless! And therefore, experimenting and adjusting the chemistry for different properties is what makes my role so enjoyable. The chemistry is adjusted, for example, if you need certain performance capabilities like the ability to withstand 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, SILRES REN 50 can be used. However, one can use SILRES REN 80, which has higher solids and can give the formulator the possibility of obtaining a formulation with lower VOC while keeping the temperature resistance performance at a very high level. There are other silicone resin products from our portfolio that can be used, and we enjoy working with our customers to provide the needed solutions.

2. That are some of the technological trends that excite you for the future of the Industrial Coating Market space?

Silicones provide a non-isocyanate cure, which can be friendlier in avoiding toxicity and long-term performance. Silicones react predictably too, so people are trying get away from isocyanates. In addition, Silicones have a good direction as a potential substitute. As a result, alternative reactions can help businesses deploy modified silicones with a wide range of applications. At the same time, using silicones as a part of the process creates longevity for coatings products.

How can budding and evolving companies reach you for suggestions to streamline their business?

Our available technical expertise is readily available to our customers. In trying to create solutions for the marketplace, each company has its own technology that it can modify and work with. Sometimes by cross-pollinating between chemistries, one can yield a unique proposal and solution. WACKER does this well through WACKER ACADEMY; by collaborating with companies, we can look into the details of different products and come up with innovative solutions in the end to the satisfaction of both parties. We then focus on finding the best way to scale this up with the customer’s production. We see a benefit in partnering with companies and inviting anyone to reach out to us to help generate innovative solutions for their industry and application.