expert interview with Heike Semmler

Heike Semmler has more than 20 years in the paint and coatings industry and now works with Coating Additives as a senior manager for the decorative coatings market segment , focusing especially on wood and furniture coatings. This position covers all different technologies such as waterborne, solventborne, and radiation-curing systems dedicated to the markets of wood and furniture coatings. 

What is special about wood and furniture coatings?

In my opinion, what is so special about wood and furniture coatings is the substrate – wood itself. It is a renewable material and has a natural beauty. If you look to mankind’s history, we have a very strong relation to wood as a construction material. Naturally we strive to protect the wood from, for example, environmental impact. 

what are the challenges in formulating wood and furniture coatings?

Clearly we can see a technology shift from traditional solventborne coatings to more environmentally friendly coatings such as waterborne or radiation-curing. Here in Europe, we have quite a long tradition of working with environmentally friendly formulations. Aside, we can see that especially in Asia over the last years, these technologies are gaining more and more market share. 

At the very beginning of this technology shift, we could see that the end-users accepted a certain “lower-performance” of these environmentally friendly formulations in place of the very well-known solventborne formulations. But today, this is no longer accepted by the end-user because they expect really high performance coatings, for example, with excellent durability and resistance in combination with the environmental aspect.  

Besides this technology shift, we can also see that the fulfillment of regulations, certain labels, or specific requirements are getting more and more into the focus of the wood and furniture coating industry. 

Clearly it is a challenge to fulfill the high demanding market needs of the wood and furniture coatings industry. But alongside we can see that there is a sort of supporting development from the raw material industry. For example, in developing new binder technology or of course new additives. 

can you elaborate on these challenges?

For example, the mechanical resistance of the coating. By addition of so-called surface control additives, it is possible to modify the coating surface. For example, TEGO® Glide additives are able to orient at the coatings surface and here providing an additive layer which gives a certain scratch resistance. Finally leading to a very nice mechanical resistance. Normally, additives which provide such slip and scratch resistance have the drawback of poor recoatability. So that means it is very difficult to repair this coating in a certain way. 

is it possible to overcome this recoatability issue?

Honestly it’s quite challenging to overcome this recoatability issue. Evonik has developed a new surface control additive that provides slip and scratch resistance in combination with excellent recoatability. Anti-crater effect, improvement in flow and leveling, alongside with low-foaming behavior are additional properties. The product is named TEGO® Glide 496 and can be used for a variety of coating technologies such as solventborne, waterborne, and radiation-curing systems.