Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute have developed a new, automated method to predict the flow outcome of a paint’s properties.The process monitors the coating’s rheological behavior, so that its properties can be used to predict how fast and completely it will level. The results can then be measured and translated into a leveling prediction. In most cases, paint must be thin enough for easy application, but also thick enough that it will not run off inclined surfaces. To compensate, many industrial coatings have complex rheological behavior with shear-sensitive and time-sensitive viscoelastic properties. According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, the center that developed this new process, standard industry methods for measuring rheological behavior do not provide any data that can be used for prediction. IPA’s method, however, reportedly uses the properties of paint to tell how fast and completely paint will level. Their new procedure reportedly reduces leveling outcome time from several hours to 15 minutes. It is also possible to use the rheological properties to achieve a specific surface structure, and the method has more reproducibility than testing samples. It is also, IPA states, possible to analyze thixotropic behavior and influence the levelling process. “From our own experience in paint recipe development, we consider that the total development time of a paint can be shortened by 15 percent,” said developer Fabian Seeler. “For an average development time of three years, this means saving 5.4 months, which represents a time advantage that could signify a huge competitive advantage when introducing new car colors, for instance.” Paint development companies could also save what equates to $185,000 per coating developed, given the reduction in the use of test samples. IPA will be offering paint characterization via using the new procedure as a service. Eventually, the measurement and evaluation software will be distributed directly to customers.