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DuPont opens coating R&D facility

Mark Drukenbrod – Dec 30, 2010

Hello and welcome to your late week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. News in the industry slowed to a trickle for this New Year's issue, but there are still a number of things you might like to know. Happy New Year and here we go...

DuPont recently opened a new research and development facility dedicated to coatings science at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, USA. The new Coatings Technology Center, established by DuPont Performance Coatings, will focus on DuPont Refinish Systems products that support the automotive collision industry and DuPont Industrial CoatingSolutions, which markets a wide range of liquid and powder industrial finishes.

"Innovation is essential to the continued growth of our coatings businesses," said John McCool, president - DPC. "This investment in research and development clearly demonstrates our commitment to growing our global coatings businesses."

Xolve Inc., formerly known as Graphene Solutions, a start-up nanomaterials company, announced last week that it has raised $2 million in funds from both financial and strategic investors. The Platteville, Wisconsin, USA-based company was founded based on research at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

The company is working to commercialize intellectual property that enables simple room temperature processing of graphene and other nanoparticle composites, solutions and coatings.

Funding for the company came from Herleen, the Netherlands-based Royal DSM NV and Baraboo-Wisconsin-based Nordic Group of Companies. Other investors include NEW Capital Fund of Appleton, Wisconsin, and Peak Ridge Capital of Boston.

O2 Investment Partners LLC of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA announced Monday that it has acquired Silbond Corp., a specialty chemical manufacturer in Weston, Michigan. The deal, terms of which will not be announced, was in partnership with Silbond's existing management. Silbond was founded in 1994 and employs 50. It is the world's largest supplier of tetraethyl orthosilicate, a chemical used in protective coatings, chemical processing and in the manufacture of semiconductors and electronics. Silbond is the only maker of the chemical for commercial sale in North America.

We started predicting the rise of matte automotive coatings about 3 years ago, much to the chagrin of some paint manufacturers who predicted thunderheads on the horizon where refinish was concerned. While the trend may seem disingenuous, it nonetheless exists. After all, we all grew up with shiny cars. Shiny says new, fresh, clean. At the moment, the trend to dull finishes is pretty much confined to high-end cars, but it seems like it's not far from breaking into the mainstream.

The physical reasons for the trend have much to do with leading-edge auto package design which has become increasingly angular and dagger or brick-like, and the fact that these designs look unimpressive wearing shifting coatings - no curves, no shift.

We were interested to see that the Wall Street Journal has picked up on the trend as well. The Journal says matte is the new black, that the look is finally going mainstream on high-end cars -- Mercedes- Benzes (E-Class, SL, etc.), Audis (R8) and Aston Martins (Vantage), among them. But not always: the company beauty-shot of the soon to be released 2012 Ford Focus was given the matte treatment for the Ford display at the L.A. Auto Show.

Driving the trend, too, is the rise of sophisticated vinyl film car swaps. They can allow an owner to swaddle their car in a flat finish for a few years that's in most ways indistinguishable from paint. Then, when the film shows wear, it can be peeled off. Ford, in particular, is making a big play on wraps.

3M Co. is among the latest to enter the matte market with a product called VentureShield Paint Protection Matte Finish Film 7710. It's a translucent stick-on film that protects the underlying paint and imparts a matte finish. Typically installed by professional shops, the film is meant to stay on the car for years.

It can be removed without damaging the paint, but cannot be re-used, the company says.

In continuing lead paint litigation news, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear the appeal of a paint company upset that it has been sued by private lawyers representing public entities.

Atlantic Richfield is appealing a California Supreme Court decision that allowed several California counties and cities to retain private attorneys on a contingency fee for a lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the company created a public nuisance when it manufactured lead paint before its federal ban. Atlantic Richfield asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal in October. No decision has been made.

The company claims public entities shouldn't have their litigation steered by lawyers who have a financial interest in the outcome of the case. The California Supreme Court sided against it in July.

Chief Justice Ronald George wrote that a "heightened" standard of neutrality is not compromised by the contingent fee agreement.

"Because private counsel who are remunerated on a contingent-fee basis have a direct pecuniary interest in the outcome of the case, they have a conflict of interest that potentially places their personal interests at odds with the interests of the public and of defendants in ensuring that a public prosecution is pursued in a manner that serves the public, rather than serving a private interest," George wrote.

"This conflict, however, does not necessarily mandate disqualification in public-nuisance cases when fundamental constitutional rights and the right to continue operation of an existing business are not implicated.

"Instead, retention of private counsel on a contingent-fee basis is permissible in such cases if neutral, conflict-free government attorneys retain the power to control and supervise the litigation."

Seven California counties and four cities (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland) sued eight paint companies, including Sherwin-Williams and Atlantic Richfield in 2000, claiming the companies created a public nuisance when they made lead-based paint before it was outlawed in 1978.

The California Supreme Court accepted the case in July 2008. The suit has been put on hold while the two sides argue if the plaintiffs' 17-percent contingent fee agreement with private counsel should be allowed to stand.

The companies, which also include DuPont and NL Industries, said that the neutrality issue had already been decided in California by a 1985 decision. The case involved the City of Corona hiring a private attorney to bring public nuisance cases against alleged violators of a city ordinance. The attorney was paid more for successful than actions than unsuccessful ones.

Initially, the companies' argument was successful, but an appellate court reversed the lower court decision and encouraged the Supreme Court to take a look at the issue.

The opinion draws a difference between the paint suit and the Corona suit. The Corona suit was more of a criminal prosecution, George wrote. Private attorneys in civil cases need not be held to the "more stringent disqualification rules applicable to criminal prosecutors."

In other news, AkzoNobel Powder Coatings announced that the Quintiq Scheduler solution has been selected to support production planning across all AkzoNobel Powder Coatings facilities in Europe ...more about this news

Diamon-Fusion International, Inc. one of the global developers and exclusive licensor of patented hydrophobic nanotechnologies, has signed an exclusive license with Kelowna Motors, a well-established and highly reputable British Columbia-based MAZDA dealer ...more about this news

TetraVitae Bioscience announced that it has completed a successful demonstration of its process to produce renewable n-butanol in a corn dry-mill pilot plant. n-Butanol and acetone are high value chemicals with many applications in the coatings, plastics, personal care, and packaging industries ...more about this news

And finally, WACKER POLYMERS is to raise its prices in Europe for VINNAPAS® and VINNOL® vinylacetate and acrylate based dispersions. Effective January 15, 2011, prices for vinylacetate based dispersions will be increased by up to €40 per ton and by up to €60 for acrylate based dispersions, or as customer contracts allow ...more about this news

Thank you for reading the Industry Letter!

Mark Drukenbrod

Autonomic materials REC


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