Of all the substrates used by the coating industry, wood is perhaps the most challenging – and fascinating. To create coating resins that bring out the beauty of natural and engineered wood, you need an intimate knowledge of the unique qualities of this natural material – whether in decorative or industrial markets. It’s what we’ve been doing at DSM for more than 40 years. After all, no two trees are exactly the same. Meanwhile, our understanding of MDF and engineered wood is perhaps best demonstrated through our Uralac® Ultra powder-based resin. It delivers the kind of performance traditionally achieved with powder-coated metal, but for MDF.
Understanding paint and wood
“How does a paint react when it’s formulated with a resin and applied to wood? This is one of the questions we spend our days answering in DSM’s scientific analytics department. Stain resistance is a big one. Sometimes, a customer will come to us asking why the paint isn’t resisting a red wine or mustard stain. We then start examining the paint in depth – with microscopes, we look at the stains and make an analysis, and we also use a wide range of high-end equipment and analytical specialists to help us understand the cause. Using the results of our research, we can tweak the properties of the resin or formulation to give them the coating performance they need."
"We work very closely with DSM colleagues who then actually test the re-formulated paint on the wood in the lab. How does it look and perform? It’s a continuous cycle of learning because we then use what we’ve learned for the next generation of resins. And, of course, it extends beyond DSM. We continuously collaborate with universities, research institutes, instrument suppliers and other companies.
At a recent optical profilometry seminar, I met some scientists from Fuji, which is neither a customer nor a competitor of ours. They’d been working in the field of optical profilometry – the study of vision and light – for over 20 years. They taught me lots of tricks and tips, which we now intend to apply to our ongoing work with wood and paint aesthetics. Innovation comes in many shapes and sizes, but it’s always happening in the background.”
Is it really possible to produce and apply a powder coating that brings the strength, reliability, aesthetics and cost-efficiency associated with metal applications to engineered wood like MDF? At DSM, we’ve found the answer: it’s called Uralac® Ultra.
This unique technology is more than just a resin; it’s a radical curing technology consisting of unsaturated polyester, a co-crosslinker and a thermal initiator. The result? Safe and sustainable powder coatings for MDF and engineered wood, applied in a unique single-layer process at just 120-130°C rather than the traditional 160-170°C.
Uralac® Ultra is already being used by industrial coating manufacturers and furniture manufacturers alike – and some of them, like Kempa, are now able to coat their product ten times faster.