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What is Paint?

The technical definition of paint is a suspension of coloured pigment particles which, when applied to a surface dries to form a wall of coherent film.


How is it Made?

The actual process of manufacturing paint is not as long and tedious as it appears to be, but it does require a certain degree of technical know-how and sound expertise.

There are five basic classes of raw materials which are used to form a free-flowing suspension of paint.

  • Pigments: coloured particles, normally in a powdered form which gives colour and opacity.

  • Binders: these together with solvents form the medium. They are usually resins or oils which dry when applied to a surface, keeping the pigments together in a uniform film. It also promotes the adhesion of the film on to the surface.

  • Solvents: when pigments and binders are processed, the resultant blend is a stiff paste. Solvents are then used to reduce this paste to a free-flowing state of easy application.

  • Extenders: normally white powders which do not contribute colour or opacity to the paint. They are used to provide specific properties eg. extenders are used to achieve a matt or low sheen finish in emulsion paints.

  • Additives: chemicals used only in small quantities to give paint specific properties eg. anti-skinning, fungus resistant, odour.

The Process - How It All Happens

The processing of paint is the incorporation of the five classes of raw materials to form a free-flowing suspension of a pre-determined shade. The first and major process in paint manufacture is dispersion of the pigment.

Pigments and extenders, when recieved, are composed of fairly large aggregates and agglomerates, although on inital inspection they may appear as finely divided particles.

Dispersion is the process whereby the pigment agglomerates/aggregrates are reduced to the size required. A high gloss paint will require very finely dispersed pigments while a primer or a satin finish will require a slightly coarser particle size.

When the desired size is achieved, the dispersed pigments are stabilized to prevent reformation of the aggregates. This is done by using more binder and wetting agents.

After stabilisation, yet more binder, solvent and finally additives are blended to complete the paint.

In each paint, the quantities of each class of raw material are determined by the properties desired.

The end use of a paint determines the raw materials to be used. Exterior paints should be formulated with light fast pigments whereas a paint designed only for interior use could be based on bright coloured pigments as fading is not a critical factor.

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