Reverse engineering, or deformulation is the breaking down of a paint formulation into its basic components, usually finding ingredients that are present down to the 1% level. It involves the separation of the coating components and then identification of these components through analytical chemistry.
These investigations can answer such questions as:
A client may be looking for a specific component in a paint formula or may need a full definitive deformulation.
How is Paint Deformulated?
Paint and coating reverse engineering usually starts with solvent analysis using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) to identify and quantify solvents. Dried coating samples can then be extracted with proprietary solvent combinations to isolate materials based on solubility.
Once materials are isolated, they can be identified using a number of analytical techniques such as Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) and Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (SEM/EDS). Other methods can be used to quantify such as Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), and Karl Fisher titration.
To learn more about the challenges of paint reverse engineering: Click to read "The Art & Science of Paint Deformulation"