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Milesi Provides An Indestructible Finish – The European Way

Web-Don has now partnered with MILESI, a premium European wood coatings manufacturer. MILESI is a brand of the IVM GROUP ®, one of the largest and most influential wood coatings manufacturers in Europe and in the world. Milesi products were born in 1947 in Italy, a country that has always been a point of reference in the furniture industry. These products were developed and perfected through constant interaction with the local industry experts and designers who are appreciated all over the world.

The studies and experience acquired working closely with leading industrial manufacturers are put at the service of craftsmanship, through a complete and innovative range of solutions for the coating of wood.

Milesi products are extremely durable and perfect for outdoor exposure applications – among many other applications.
In the US, the evolution of production finishing progressed from nitro lacquer to acid catalyzed finishes and the Europeans dabbled in this technology for a while. It was environmental rules that ultimately dictated that European technology move away from acid catalyzed finishes. European cities are very densely populated and early on they developed strict environmental rules—for instance, in Europe acetone is not considered an exempt solvent when calculating VOC’s. They saw formaldehyde, a byproduct of acid catalyzed finishes, as being a major environmental concern. Their technology took a different path to achieve a high performance coating and that was the one of polyurethanes.

The performance of a wood coating is largely dependent on the resins that are used. In the world of polyurethanes, there are a wide variety of resin families to choose from. The catalyst is also a resin and as it crosslinks it becomes part of the final dry film; unlike acid catalyzed finishes here, the catalyst is only used to start the crosslinking process. This means that the performance characteristics of the catalyst can add to the overall performance of the coating. So, now there are two elements that you can vary to finely tailor a coating to fit specific performance requirements. The way the catalyst makes the urethane molecules crosslink with each other is also different. When catalyzed, the molecules of the polyurethanes are bonded at two points at each end of the molecule chain, rather than just one in the acid catalyzed system. This means that the bond is stronger and performance increases. Pretty cool, huh?

OK, let’s compare the European polyurethane technology to that of the acid catalyzed. Generally speaking…

2K Polyurethanes:

  • Have higher solids contents so they build faster with fewer coats.
  • Have better flexibility so they can achieve a higher dry film thickness without cracking.
  • Better chemical resistance, moisture resistance and scratch resistance—thanks to the double ionic bonding of the catalyst and resins.
  • Better clarity—you can achieve a perfect wet look.
  • The pigments used in paint actually crosslink, so they are harder, and you can even buff a paint without applying a clear coat first.
  • No formaldehyde release.
    As we all know, everything in the finishing world is a give and take situation. To get this level of performance what do we have to give up? The rules for using these European products are pretty much the same as for acid catalyzed products, but there are a couple of things that are different.
  • Pot life’s are shorter. Most are two to four hours rather than eight to 24 hours, or, as in the case of PreCat lacquers, months.
  • Generally they have longer dry times.
  • The solvents in most US wiping stains don’t mix well with these products, so making sure the stain is dry is crucial.
  • All of your film build is done with your sealers or primers. Normally only 1 topcoat is required.

So, you can see that the polyurethanes are a little different to work with, but many say the added performance is worth it. The question now becomes “is this the finish for me?” The high performance of the European coating technology has certainly piqued the interest of the American market. There are many more brands to choose from today than there were 2-3 years ago. Many architects are specifying these products for commercial and government projects, so you can see that they are becoming more commonplace in our market. For some companies, these European products may not become their standard finish, but there surely will be instances where they are the right product to fill a certain need … and in many cases using these products will certainly separate you from your competition. As with anything, it is imperative that your supplier have the ability to train you or your people. Web-Don certainly has this ability. This is crucial and it can save you a lot of time and frustration.

The European technology is not difficult to understand, but having the opportunity to learn from someone with experience will certainly shorten the learning curve. One other subject to discuss and that is the difference between the European and our stain systems. In the US, the pigments used in most stains are opaque, which means that they can also be used in glazes and in paints. The European pigments used in stains are semi-transparent and are not used in paints. The result is that the European stains tend to be less muddy than those used in the US. Also much of the stains in Europe are spray only; here we tend to favor wiping stains.

Finally, the way that Europeans approach making stains is a little different from the way we do it here. We tend to start the process by deciding on how the stain is going to be applied – and then choose the appropriate clear stain base and then begin to add colorants to it. In Europe, they start by mixing the colorants to achieve the color, diluting it down with solvents to reach the correct intensity and then blend in additives to optimize the mixture for spray and wipe, spray only, or dipping (yes dipping) applications.

So, you can see that as finishers we have a lot of options when it comes the coatings we have available for our use. While each has advantages as well as disadvantages, it is our job to educate ourselves about them so we can pick the best one for a particular application.

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