Ashland is transforming its technical and analytical services for the paint and coatings industry by adding a dedicated laboratory to its campus in Wilmington, DE. The new 2,000-sq-ft facility complements the company’s existing 8,000-sq-ft Coatings Center of Excellence on the site. Combined, the facilities provide paint formulators with expansive resources for testing new or modified formulations, understanding consumer preferences, and optimizing products for success. “Ashland has been solving customers’ toughest coatings problems since we introduced Natrosol HEC, the industry’s largest selling rheology modifier, more than 50 years ago,” said Ed Connors, Ashland group vice-president, Industrial Specialties. “This new lab ensures customers continued access to world-class technical support for years to come. It, along with our new product innovations like Strodex low-VOC surfactants, confirms our commitment to our customers’ success and to the industry.” Expanded access to Ashland’s patent-pending Application Reader Technology (ART) device is expected to be a major attraction for global customers. This interprets how painters apply paint and converts that information into objective, actionable data. This information can be used to tailor formulations to specific customer preferences for paint feel. There are two ART devices on site. The facility’s large footprint provides versatility, allowing for application trials that range from small-scale screens to simulated field applications using 10 sheets of 4 x 8 ft. drywall. It will accommodate trials using the three major application methods – spray, brush and roller. Customers will also benefit from numerous other resources, including a profilometer for mapping surface roughness, a spray booth that can handle two full sheets of drywall at one time, and a viewing/evaluation area with variable integrated lighting (incandescent, CFL, LED) that accommodates a full sheet of drywall “These resources can help manufacturers create new formulations and speed product development,” said Prachur Bhargava, Ashland global marketing manager, Coating Specialties. “Insights uncovered here will expand the limits of what the industry currently believes is possible.” Ashland invested approximately $400,000 in the expansion, which took six months to complete.