Industry Developments

Observers might think that changes in the metal coatings industrial practices happen slowly, so slowly that in fact as an applicator you’re probably never in much danger of finding yourself left too far behind. That feeling that there’ll always be time to adapt and catch-up is a dangerous strategy to follow.

Progress in trends and technologies can sometimes take the most sedate of industries by surprise. Just look at the family car market. Who’d have thought that electric vehicles would now be so popular and even in the case of Tesla at least be a luxury good? The take home therefore is that it’s vitally important to remain informed on current trends and technologies in any industry/market.

Laws & Regulations

The driver for change is often regulation or the introduction of new legislation, and as an applicator or customer who may be specifying a coating, this is outside your sphere of influence generally speaking. This makes it essential that you understand what the introduction of new regulations means for your business. As an example, China tightened its regulations around the use of solvent-borne metal coatings at the start of the 2010’s.

The effect is that, out of almost nowhere, metal containers made in China since the 2010’s have been coated in water-borne coatings. The introduction of a VOC fee has also had a significant impact on the location of coatings facilities and the coating solutions companies use.

When considering your own national regulatory system, you may feel the slide of change is somewhat slower. Nonetheless, staying up to date and taking an adaptive posture can prove to be a wise strategy. The change from solvent-borne to water-borne can prove an expensive change in terms of both financial and time cost. Therefore keeping an eye on potential changes should be considered to be a critical activity.

Even ISO Standards have recognised this and made it something to consider. Think in terms of Context of the Organisation and how your external supplier relationships might be affected or what key resources you might need you don’t already have and how your key activities might be affected.

Coatings & Sustainability

It is undeniable that there is a global trend towards sustainability and reducing environmental impact. The effect is that each step in the supply chain (and as an applicator you are just one of those steps) is experiencing growing pressure as a responsible corporation to improve efforts in reducing environmental impact.

Understanding what this means to you and your business is a matter of learning about what’s required and how this impacts on coatings solutions.

Questions – which is better?

A high VOC coating that lasts twice as long before first renewal as a low VOC coating? What is the true cost, financial, time and environmental impact of the coating choice? Which is the more sustainable solution?

Northpoint recognises this and as a coatings service provider can partner with customers to come to a decision on the most appropriate sustainable coating system. Northpoint can offer a Project Quality Plan (PQP) and Inspection & Test Plan (ITP) that addresses any sustainability issues or concerns to be provided up and through the full supply chain.

Water v Solvent Borne

Regulation will precipitate a further drift towards water-borne coatings but this isn’t the only choice that could be made. There’s also the move towards high-solids coatings.

High-solids coatings as the name suggests have a much higher concentration of solids versus a carrier solution. They offer an alternative as a means of meeting regulatory requirements. This is certainly an area of coatings development worth keeping an eye on.

100% Solids Coatings

Solid coatings look and act just like wet paint solutions but are applied generally speaking in a thicker single layer. Like powder coatings (see below) there’s no VOC. They offer an excellent solution where regulations are a concern but require specialist and therefore expensive equipment for application.


Digitisation is creeping at some pace through all aspects of our home and commercial lives and coatings application is no different. The most obvious impact is the effect of e-commerce and logistics to provide a highly tailored service. The need to deliver ever more detailed technical data and digital communications between parts of the supply chain has accelerated the dissemination of information, nobody is now a silo of expertise. This said it’s now expected that knowledge of what’s required and what’s to be achieved is an expectation and seen as crucial to success.

Powder Coatings

Whilst far from new innovation, powder coatings offer the opportunity to apply coatings with no VOC whatsoever. Powder coatings are typically, although not always, applied as a single layer coating system and can be applied as either thermoset or thermoplastic options. The equipment for application is fairly standard in design and easily available from a wide number of suppliers. However, powder coatings require high temperatures for curing or sintering and so the cost of energy may be a deciding factor when choosing these types of coatings.

Closing Thoughts

Change will continue to happen, not necessarily in a smooth even pattern. The above outlines how we at Northpoint see the main trends of development affecting coatings and which aspects of the business need to be prepared and adaptive for changes.

The influence of regulatory changes cannot be understated. There are changes on the way that will further boost the sustainability and reductions in environmental impact of coating. Digitisation will continue to enhance how business is conducted and knowledge shared, acting to democratise expertise in coatings.

Coatings by Northpoint

Northpoint boasts a dedicated workshop, with coating application lines for the following:

  • Powder Coatings – FBE’s Epoxy’s, Polyesters, PPA 571 (a type of plastic coating) and combinations
  • 100% Solids – Eurokote 468 Thixo (a thixotropic epoxy coating system), Endoprene 870 (a polyurethane coating system)
  • Water Borne – from International Paints, Sigma, PPG, Hemple, NORSOK M-501 systems
  • Solvent Borne – from International Paints, Sigma, PPG, Hempel, NORSOK M-501 systems

If you have a coating solution requirement, whether you need an ISO 12944 C4 or C5M, C5I, C5X solution, or you have a specification from KOC or SaudiAramco, or Petrofac, contact us with your enquiry.

Blog Author – Philip Dawson, Technical Advisor, for technical and specification enquiries.