In March 2023, an automotive aftermarket manufacturer launching a new line of flexible vinyl tonneau covers for pickup trucks approached APV Engineered Coatings with a request: help them improve the durability of their product while maintaining its matte finish. APV went a step further by engineering a coating formula that met the customer’s needs while also being PFAS-free.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. Studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects, which is why APV is determined to eliminate them from their formulas.
Creating PFAS-free formulations is just one example of how APV engineers coatings technologies to address their customers’ most challenging criteria. From modifying specific performance characteristics and physical properties, to addressing environmental compliance and production needs, APV’s chemists and application engineers work closely with textile and vinyl product manufacturers during the entire development cycle.
For example, the tonneau cover manufacturer discovered that, while the coating they used for other products provided the matte finish and flexibility they needed for their new tonneau covers, the matting agents in the coating made the lacquer layer too soft, allowing it to be scratched with a fingernail. Considering the tough, abrasive environment and constant rolling/unrolling of the thin, fabric-like cover, scratch-resistance was a critical product success factor.
APV’s chemists found a novel raw material, which when added to its low-VOC VYNGUARD® Vinyl Acrylic formula, would provide the scratch resistance the customer needed. They also incorporated a new PFAS- and fluorine-free matting agent. This extra step taken by APV would allow the tonneau cover maker to obtain the performance characteristics desired in an environmentally responsible manner.
The coating commercialization process included raw materials research, formula development, regulatory compliance analysis, laboratory testing, and coated sample delivery to the customer, after which additional adjustments were made to gloss level and cure times. Once the formula was finalized, APV’s application engineers visited the manufacturer’s plant to help optimize production parameters. The entire process was completed in five months – a compressed timeline that is aggressive for the coatings industry in general but business as usual for APV as a one-stop shop for custom coatings development.
Greg Marty, Development Chemist, has over 40 years of experience in the coatings industry. His experience in OEM building products includes helping commercialize a high-performance coating that gives polypropylene siding the aesthetics of real stone in a flat sheen with superior adhesion. In addition to formulating and testing custom formulations, he analyzes and produces color matches.