25 Apr 2022

A matter of perspective

Sustainability is a complex term. What does it mean in the field of coatings and inks? Peter Kuchenbrod, Business Manager of the Coatings & Inks division at Nordmann, explains.

Peter Kuchenbrod, Business Manager Coatings & Inks at Nordmann

Recently I typed “sustainability” into a search engine and was literally gobsmacked by the number of definitions and possible applications for the term. So then I asked myself, “What does sustainability mean to me, someone who has been in the coatings industry for all these years?” My answer is this: a lot of coatings and paints are used for the essential purpose of protecting objects and extending their lifespans. Doesn’t that already make them sustainable? 

Take coating the fuselage of an aircraft, for example. In this case, toxic chromates are used as anti-corrosive pigments – even though they are banned in Europe for almost all other applications. Nonetheless, I would call this a “sustainable” practice. 

Why? By using only a few kilograms of these chromates on the aluminum, corrosion is dramatically delayed and the life of an aircraft prolonged significantly. In turn, this leads to fewer new aircraft needing to be built. And so far, it’s just not been possible to match the level of protection that chromates can provide by using other types of anti-corrosive pigments. 

Regardless of these kinds of examples, there are now more and more ways to make paint and coatings using sustainably produced raw materials and without having to sacrifice on performance. Together with the many creative minds in our sector and in the raw materials industry, we are constantly working on new and progressive concepts to implement. As is so often the case, the world is not black or white when it comes to sustainability, but instead colorful and full of nuance.

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