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January 15, 2010 3 min read

Over the last thirty years, chemical product manufacturers have had to meet tremendous challenges. Two of these with huge impact are regulatory requirements and, less prominent, but with greater long-term effects, changing customer attitudes. System Three Resins, a manufacturer of polymer products in the marine industry for over twenty-five of those thirty years, has met those challenges. And one area where we feel we've done better than most is marine coatings.

Historically, paint for priming and finishing boats has been solvent-borne. Over the course of our existence, we have seen the number and variety of products increase dramatically, due to customer demands for quality and performance. In addition, because of improvements in coatings technology, the ability of the manufacturers to respond and produce them has grown also. But even though we've seen tremendous changes and improvements across the board, one property has remained the same: marine coatings continue to be solvent-borne.

This means that the toxicity and flammability of these products, due to their solvent content, has not improved. For professionals this hasn't presented a problem, because they have the skill, equipment, and locations to use solvent-borne products successfully. On the other hand, for the amateur boatbuilder, boat owner, or "do-it-yourselfer," lack of the same traits and conditions has made the non-professional's options of ways to paint his or her boat very narrow. In addition, because professional painting operations and painters represent the overwhelming majority of the paint volume consumed, coating manufacturers have done little or nothing to service the amateur or do-it-yourself market with high-performance, long-lasting products.

The amateur's choices are limited to single-component alkyd-modified urethanes, pigmented and clear, and he's forced to use even these outside. This means that to get high-performance, long-lasting paint on his or her boat, the amateur is essentially forced to have it applied by a professional. There's also little reason for optimism on the horizon.

From the beginning, System Three has looked at the amateur boatbuilder and owner as very important customers. The slogan we adopted, "Boatbuilding Launched Our Company," is absolutely true. In keeping with this spirit we developed high-performance, two-part, low-hazard coatings for the do-it-yourself boat builder or owner. The initial product offerings, in 1992, were introduced after two years of formulation and testing, and represented the best technology available at that time.

Our paint products consisted of a two-part, waterborne epoxy primer, and a two-part, waterborne polyurethane topcoat (LPU). These two products still exist today, with a long track record of successful application by first-time, and many repeat, users. We believed in 1990 that the do-it-yourselfer deserved high-performance marine products he or she could apply with the skill level and equipment they had, and we believe it today. We're excited about the improvements in coatings technology over the years since our paint products were introduced. These developments afford us a wide range of options to formulate into coatings that will offer the customer more value and convenience than the ones we manufacture now.

There are a number of new low-hazard coating products currently in development at System Three, and will be introduced as soon as each one is tested and ready in production quantities. Check our WR-LPU paint page for what is available now, and check back here periodically for updates on what's coming up.

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