Paint brings many things to life in our world. From the mundane to the walls of our homes, paint is a common part of so many products and industries. Probably too many to count. While everyone considers the colors for the job, not as many people actually know the stuff that fills a paint can. The question at hand is, what are the common ingredients of paint, how it is mixed, and made?
The Typical Ingredients of Paint
There are four typical ingredients of paint: pigment, resin, a solvent, and additives. Prime pigments bring the color to the metaphorical party, accompanied by extender pigments that give the paint its substance and bulk. If paint could be compared to brownie batter, then the resin would fulfill the same purpose as the eggs- it binds all of the pigments together and adds adhesives properties so that the paint will stick to the surface. These can be made out of things like oils, polymers, or chemical compounds called alkyd resins. Solvents are mixed in order to act as something of a carrier, enabling the painter to brush the paint from the can and onto the surface. Water is a commonly used solvent in paint, and others use organic mineral derivatives. A good rule of thumb in judging one aspect of the quality of a paint is ratio of solids to liquids. Pricier paints tend to contain a higher amount of solids like the pigments and resins, and a lesser volume of solvents. Lastly, there are the additives. Additives can be used for a variety of different reasons. Some additives provide durability, some contain substances that prevent the growth of mildew, but additives can also preserve the paint and prevent spoilage or keep the pigments even in the mixture.
How Paint Is Made
The first step in actually manufacturing the paint is measuring out each of the ingredients. This can be accomplished with a digital scale and the ones used in the paint manufacturing industry are extremely precise, even when weighing massive quantities of paint. Pigments are powder-like substances, which can quickly form bothersome clumps. So they have to be broken down into individual particles, and then resins and additives are applied to prevent the clumps from reforming. That entire phase is called dispersion. This brings us to industrial mixing and paint. Industrial mixers are the ideal tool of the trade for this kind of process, because they are more than capable of combining all of the ingredients and dispersing the pigments properly. Liquid materials are added to the mixing tank first, and then the pigments are folded in at a slow but steady pace. The blades of the mixer also prevent the paint from sticking to the walls of the tank. Breaking up the pigments isn't as simple as it might sound- there are some types of heavy paints that require golf-ball sized spheres to be placed in the mixer with the paint to ensure that the pigments are obliterated into individual particles. Those are called ball mills. Bead mills are one level of intensity beneath ball mills, using similar but smaller beads and operating at a high rate of speed; resulting in a more rapid output of paint. Then there are bar mills, which of a water-cooled roller that presses against a bar- bar mills are typically used in the production of highly viscous paints. Meanwhile, the solvents, resins, and additives are mixed in a separate vessel; which is called the let-down. The mill-base and the let-down are then mixed with one another; and the end result is paint.
Paint: Past, Present, Future
Clearly, trends in paint colors are always fluctuating and have changed time and time again over the past century or so. This is particularly true with cars. When cars first hit the streets, drivers tended to stick with the colors of their old horse-drawn carriages. By the time that Henry Ford introduced an affordable car, the primary concern was practicality rather than looks- so there was less of a demand for cars in any other color but black. Brighter colors faded easily, and Ford discovered a dark asphalt-based baked enamel that kept its shine for years. Eventually, the 1960’s rolled around, and technology existed that enabled paint manufacturers to get more creative with their colors. Metallic-based paints were extremely popular; especially in vivid shades of red and orange, and darker hues of green. But the availability of these were something of a novelty; and once the newness wore off, the trend shifted back towards traditional colors.
As we arrive in 2015- with 2016 quickly approaching- there are more paint colors available now more than ever. Custom paint jobs are more common, and the aesthetics can be the deciding factor as an individual chooses between one product and another. Despite all the growth and expansion of paint colors that have manifested themselves over the past few decades, white is still the most common car color in the world today. Grey, silver, navy, and black have also held their own in the market. This just goes to show you that some traditions and trends never die- there will always be differing tastes, but timeless colors like the ones mentioned above aren’t likely to disappear anytime in the near future.