Superyacht paint is, without doubt, one of the most important factors both for new-build projects and for the existing superyacht fleet. It’s the first thing many people notice about a yacht (perhaps more so when it has been done badly or has faded with time), can be a critical bone of contention when it comes to delivery acceptance and warranty, and can represent up to 10 per cent of a new project’s budget, and a similar amount or more when it comes to a refit project.
The problem, of course, is that there are so many factors that can impact on the quality of a paint job and how long it subsequently lasts. Environmental factors, paint facilities, the skill of the applicators, the quality of fairing and the substrate, what acceptance criteria have been specified, the budget, and even the way the crew looks after the paint when the yacht is in service can all play a vital role. But at its foundation lie the paint manufacturers themselves.
Back in issue 178 of The Superyacht Report, we looked at some of the changing environmental regulations and the potential impact these could have on the formulation of superyacht paints and topcoats – a hot topic, particularly after changing formulations a few years back were blamed, by some quarters, for a perceived change in quality. The truth, of course, is never that simple and it is just as likely that any supposed failures could have been down purely to a mishandling of a newer product or a lack of understanding of how the application method required might have changed. What is clear, though, is that continued regulation globally will continue to present challenges to paint manufacturers.
So what are companies such as Boero YachtCoatings doing to prepare for the future while ensuring their products maintain the standards demanded by an increasingly paint-aware superyacht industry? Superyachtnews talked exclusively to Mauro Legrottaglie, research & development and technical assistance manager of the Boero Group to find out more.
“What are the challenges facing paint manufacturers at the moment? Stricter and stricter regulations (for instance in the reduction of solvent emissions and VOC (volatile organic compounds) are up there,” Legrottaglie begins, “along with the use of high-solid or water-based products, the request for extremely high standards and resistance over time, and the ease of application – these are only some of the key points in the challenge of formulating topcoats. Also worth mentioning,” he continues, “is the study of new raw materials with a low impact on human health, especially concerning professional applicators and the areas within the shipyards.”
Boero YachtCoatings has already been working hard for a number of years to answer many of the new requests and challenges, and Legrottaglie says that new regulations will for sure guide both actual and future choices of everyone involved in formulating paint products. “Unfortunately,” he adds, “water-based versions of the products – which are now largely used in the car-refinishing market – have not yet found their space in the superyacht industry mainly because of the high standards requested.” The formulation process will also likely involve even closer work with the companies producing the chemical ingredients that make up paint. “The ease of application and the speed of the paint job will be important factors to consider for future formulations,” says Legrottaglie, “which will have to include a close synergy and collaboration between the paint product formulators and the manufacturers of the raw materials.”
Key to this future will be the work done in the labs of all the main paint manufacturers, and Boero YachtCoatings is no different when it comes to the extensive R&D going on behind the scenes. “The R&D lab constantly performs a complete range of tests in order to verify the mechanical and chemical properties of our paint systems and relative fillers,” Legrottaglie explains, “plus other tests focused on the visual and superficial properties of the topcoats. The study of these parameters allows us to know the performances of the paint systems even under extreme weather conditions.”
Such tests are carried out using dynamometers, rheometers, climate rooms, QUV, Xenon tests, gloss meters and wave scanners for the surface of topcoats. Moreover, Boero YachtCoatings collaborates with universities, superyacht yards, professional applicators and specialised institutes in order to find new solutions for the emerging requests of owners, yards and surveyors. Further, extensive in-house testing is backed up with tests by independent labs and specialists, which gives a perfect, impartial feedback option for Boero on the performance of its products. Superyachtnews reported earlier in the summer the results of a comparative test by Wrede Technologies which highlighted the quality and resilience of Boero products under some fairly extreme test cycles. “Independent tests surely have an added value,” says Legrottaglie, “both because they are carried out by an institution that is super partes and well-known in the superyacht industry and because they confirm the results of our in-house tests on the quality of our products.”
With all the changing regulations, the move toward less solvent by volume and perhaps more water-based product, what does the future hold for superyacht paint? Further, what sorts of technologies are Boero investigating in the lab for a possible next-generation coating? “As of today, Boero YachtCoatings is able to offer a complete colour range, from pastel colours to special effects such as metallic and pearlescent finishes, thanks to the new tintometric system,” says Legrottaglie. “The trend seems to be toward glossy finishes that are highly resistant to UV rays and chemical agents, with higher standards concerning distension, gloss and reflection. The R&D lab is constantly involved in innovative research projects in the fields of eco-sustainable and nano technology raw materials,” he concludes, “with the aim of further improving the performances of the products and reducing the necessary maintenance.”
Images courtesy of Boero YachtCoatings
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Paint and technology will also be a key focus in this year’s The Superyacht Forum, taking place 13-16 November at Amsterdam RAI. Following a theme of A 10-year Blueprint for the Superyacht Market, the forum is set to be the networking highlight of the superyacht calendar, with 800 delegates and key decision makers from the technology, operations, owner and family office, project management, yard and construction sectors brought together to discuss the key factors affecting and influencing our industry. To book your place and for further information, click here.