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Riding the Waterborne Wave

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managing editor hannah schiffman applies a second coat of awx paint to her test panel.bodyshop business editor jason stahl tries out awx paint in dodge charger orange.a gun-cleaning station for solventborne and waterborne equipment in a sherwin-williams paint booth.a model of a sherwin-williams jobber store housed in the sherwin-williams automotive refinishes corp. headquarters.jim stoneburg explains a machine in a sherwin-williams lab that simulates florida's humid climate to determine its affect on the company's automotive paints.Dave McCord of Sherwin-Williams demonstrates the AWX line's quick-drying waterborne basecoat, which appears grainy when wet.

BodyShop Business Editor Jason Stahl and Managing Editor Hannah Schiffman visited Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp. in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, on July 22 to test out the company’s new line of AWX waterborne paints and learn about the company’s efforts to help shops comply with new low-VOC emission regulations cropping up in the United States and Canada.

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Manager of Applied Technology Vehicle Refinish Dave McCord used one of Sherwin-Williams’ six testing facility paint booths to demonstrate the AWX line, which features quick flash times and a sandable basecoat. McCord noted the paint “behaves more like solventborne paint, so there’s a shorter learning curve for techs.”

Solventborne paints use evaporation to fuse particles together into a film, but in AWX paint, the water base dehydrates, allowing color particles to join together, Director of Global Product Management Nick Bartoszek explained. Waterborne paint also requires a stainless steel or other type of water-resistant paint gun and a separate area for gun cleaning and waste disposal.

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Extreme heat isn’t necessary to dry AWX, McCord said. With the help of substantial air movement, the waterborne paint can dry in an average of four minutes per coat, with one-and-a-half to three coats required.

McCord gave BodyShop Business a shot at using the AWX paint in “Dodge Charger Orange” on two test panels. Although AWX appeared thick and grainy when first applied – McCord said the appearance can throw off techs new to AWX paint – it dried to a smooth, even finish in minutes with the help of Junair air venturis retrofitted into the booth. Dirt in Stahl’s panel was easily smoothed away after the paint dried, and a final shot of clearcoat was set in about a half hour.

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“You can’t tap dance on the clearcoat in a half hour, but the idea is to get it out of the paint booth so you’re not wasting productive space,” McCord said.

After the AWX demo, Jim Stoneburg, technical vice president, gave a tour of Sherwin-Williams’ extensive on-site lab facility. The company has a machine to test every conceivable condition that could affect automotive paint, from gravel chipping to extreme humidity. A model of a fully stocked Sherwin-Williams jobber store is also housed in the Warrensville Heights facility.

“We have everything you could possibly need for vehicle painting,” Stoneburg said, standing near a wall of paint guns.

Sherwin-Williams’ goal, Stoneburg said, is to help shops operate as efficiently and affordably as possible while staying ahead of technological trends and evolving government regulations.

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