Deformulation of Paints & Coatings

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:

  • What's in my competitor's product?
  • Why is the new supplier's additive different?
  • What is causing the batch-to-batch variations?

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.

paint mixOnce 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"