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Meeting the deadline to comply with VOC regulations

for some time now, Canada has had the technical specs for VOC legislation in place. The only problem seemed to be the date for implementation. June 18, 2010 is now the date when suppliers will have to stop manufacturing or importing non VOC compliant products.

By Mark MacEachern

Suppliers will then have a further six months to remove this product from the supply stream, as of now, the stop sell by date is set for December 19th, 2010. After this date, products that do not meet the legislation will not be available.

Many shops have already made the switch to using waterborne basecoats as a means to meet the new legislation. For these shops, their supplier and jobber have helped them through the process of conversion. For the folks who are still using solvent borne paints, the time to convert is growing short. As with many business decisions, waiting to the last minute does not usually work very well. Paint suppliers and jobbers will be very short on resources if everyone waits until the last day. Some facilities have not made the switch for various reasons, some do not believe the legislation will ever become law, others are simply not interested because of the perceived costs involved.

Better be VOC compliant

Why are we moving to waterborne finishes? The single biggest reason is that most of the solvent borne base coats in use contain approximately 75-85% organic solvents, these solvents are the source of the VOC’s we are trying to reduce. Waterborne basecoats still have organic solvents, but at a much lower amount, usually 10% of total volume.

It is difficult to generalise the properties of waterborne as each manufacturer has its own recommendations for use. However, there are a few things common to making the switch. Waterborne products tend to be more sensitive to contamination, either by poor air or poor surface preparation.

Waterborne products can change appearance dramatically as they dry, this makes it all the more important to make use of spray out cards or color check panels to ensure proper color matching. Dedicated guns and cleaning equipment are also a good idea to help avoid cross contamination. The ability to control humidity, temperature and airflow in the booth is vital to successful application of waterborne base coats.

For any shop contemplating the change to a waterborne system, the first point of contact should be the jobber and paint supplier, they will be able to provide the training and a list of recommendations to enable the best use of their product.

Mark MacEachern is a faculty member of the Automotive Collision Repair & Refinishing Department of the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, Dartmouth NS.

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