A star is reborn: the range of wood coatings for professional furniture makers

a star

Arch Chemicals acquired the Sayerlack range of ‘Innovative Wood Solutions’, already market leaders in this and many other countries around the world, in year 2000. Now the brand has been repackaged to generate a new and dynamic image and to raise the profile of the products and everything the brand represents across a broad range of market sectors.

Protection and decorative enhancement for furniture materials

The protection and decorative enhancement of wood in all its forms has been the corporate mission of Sayerlack since its establishment as a manufacturing company in 1954 at Pianoro, in Italy–the site where the production base remains to this day. hr fire beginning the focus of the founders was directed primarily towards traditional timber joinery and veneers for architectural and interior fitting applications and for furniture manufacture and restoration.

Now, in the 21st century that remit has been extended to encompass wood based panel materials–not just in their veneered form but also foil laminated and extending to timber and panel materials deployed externally as well as internally. The role of Sayerlack branded materials has been summed up by its current owners as ‘tire ennoblement of wood and wood based materials’.

‘We must now bring together,’ says Arch Coatings managing director Ian Hobday, ‘all of the research, development and product formulation gains that we’ve made during the past three years under the umbrella of a single brand which will encapsulate, for markets worldwide, the range and scope of achievements by Arch Coatings.

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‘Sayerlack is one of the longest established and best respected brands in its field and our intention is that it should be the best known–the touchstone for everything that is good in wood coatings.’

The output of Sayerlack branded products in 1954 was 50 tonnes and in 2001 it was 44,517 tonnes. Sayerlack is the third largest producer in its field in Europe by volume and the brand is sold in 74 countries worldwide. Europe’s three biggest Saylerlack markets are Italy, of course, plus France and Great Britain and the biggest growth areas are the US, Asia and eastern Europe, especially emerging markets like China and Russia which are growing exponentially year on year.

The Sayerlack brand has been revised and updated in 2003 to better address disparate global markets and tastes and to unify the many technical and practical strengths of the products and of the company under a single instantly recognisable and immediately appealing presentational style. The new look has been designed to maximise the appeal of the products at all levels not just for end users but also for those within the network of many thousands of agents and distributor outlets worldwide through whom Sayerlack products reach the marketplace.

In a newly published corporate report from Sayerlack, management underscores the increasing emphasis for the future that will be placed on research and development for the production of faster, more efficient wood coatings under the Sayerlack brand label and the importance of that formula in raising standards of customer service. It identifies the primary targets of that R&D work under five broad headings:

* Expanding research into water based products to reduce environmental emissions

* Extending the range of UV drying and Dual Cure UV product options

* Increasing the range of durability guarantees in support of all Sayerlack coatings

* Formulating a greater range of fire retardant solutions for the protection of wood

* Developing synergistic relationships with other Arch Group divisions to extend the protection of wood from the point at which it is cut through to the end user.

These emphases are focused on development or enhancement because collectively they have been the cornerstones of the work conducted by Arch Coatings since the days of Hickson International whose work up to that point was also progressing in parallel directions. It was, for example, Hickson Coatings who, before the end of the 90s, were first among the surface coatings specialists to enter the UK wood and panel finishing marketplace with industry proven pigmented Dual Cure UV lacquers.

Impact of Conditions

Hicksons effectively by passed the water vs. solvent based materials debate with their Dual Cure UV products which were (and are) fully EPA compliant and which also score heavily over acid catalysed lacquers in several other key respects. Dual Cure UV coatings have demonstrated their ability to solve a number of fairly high profile practical problems for users.

Experience has shown that the high temperatures needed to cure AC lacquers in short cycles tend to distort solid timbers and particularly softwoods, which also suffer from resin pockets being brought to the surface by extreme heat and causing patchy gloss variation in the finished surface. The overspray of AC lacquers is also, by its nature, difficult to recover and users of the eminently recoverable Dual Cure UV coatings have reported big reductions in application volumes.

A low pressure UV curing line was installed at what is now the Knottingley R&D laboratory of Sayerlack to develop Dual Cure UV application techniques. The new facility gave the brand a valuable lead in the development of pigmented Dual Cure UV coatings which have since become a market sector leader for Sayerlack.

The latest Sayerlack Dual Cure UVs are well within the VOC compliancy parameters of the EPA, the upper limit of which is 520 grams per litre. Sayerlack’s pigmented basecoats and topcoats are both coming in comfortably below 460 grams.

Arch Coatings and Hicksons before them also pioneered the development of environmentally friendly waterborne coatings which address the rising tide of concern for public health, health and safety at work and the environment. Preferences for a system that is harmless at all levels and comparable in terms of cost and performance with more traditional materials are not difficult to understand and will surely outgrow those for coatings that are, to one degree or another, toxic.

Much of the development work on water based coatings has been done at the Italian Sayerlack factory and laboratories in Pianoro, stimulated by globally increasing regulatory pressure on solvent emission controls, capacity of 12 million litres per annum with an accompanying computer controlled 10,000sq m warehouse in support.

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