Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What is the Difference Between Duco NC Lacquer and PU?

Duco is a brand owned by Akzo Nobel (formerly ICI) and represents a Nitro Cellulose (NC) Based lacquer available in transparent and opaques. NC lacquers were widely used in the automobile industry to finish vehicle bodies to get a tough weather resistant, glossy film with performance far superior to the then prevalent enamels. But there were a few drawbacks to NC. NC Lacquers are highly viscous and take large amounts of thinner to thin to a sprayable consistency. Nitrocellulose on exposure to sunlight deteriorates, looses gloss and turns yellow. It is also notorious to apply on edges and often begin to peel off at the edges. The NC paints needed to be periodically buffed to remove the yellowed top layer. This leads to reduction of the paint film thickness. NC lacquers are also sensitive to ambient temperature and humidity during application. The temperature and humidity are known to adversely affect the gloss of the finish.

With the advent of Polyurethane coatings, NC began loosing popularity as the preferred choice for vehicle body painting. PU as polyurethane is popularly known, has far better technical specifications to NC. PU is colour fast in sunlight and does not deteriorate even on prolonged exposure. PU forms a tougher film than NC due to extensive cross-linking introduced in the polymer. PU does not chip or peel off like NC. No buffing is required to maintain colour and gloss. PU can also be applied in a wide range of atmospheric conditions as compared to NC. PU is also easier to tint and match than NC due to the clarity of its binder and lower viscosity. PU can also be tinted to metallic shades. PU is also available in matt finishes.

Both NC and PU are used to coat wood and metal. These materials are also in wide use in home decor. PU is now the leading coating in the automotive industry and is fast gaining popularity in the decorative segment as well.

With green standards fast becoming the norm, PU is also available in water based variants that can be used to coat wood. They have a comparable performance to Solvent based PUs and are much easier to apply. They don't require elaborate spray equipment and also do not pose a health hazard as they can be brushed on.

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