When high technology meets industrial coatings, it’s not just a simple coat of paint anymore.

No one denies that advances in technology will change the way that buildings are maintained. However, the types of changes that will occur are open to speculation. In the painting and coating field, research from private corporations is leading to new colors, better coverage, faster drying times and lower VOC content. Continued advances in painting technology may bring about paints that react to impact, heat and other environmental changes.

Microencapsulation technology allows paint manufacturers to add dyes to paint. When the paint suffers an impact, the tiny capsules in the paint break and alter the color. Although the technology is meant for coating military aircraft, further research could yield reactive paint suitable for commercial or industrial purposes.

By changing the materials used to create the microcapsules, manufacturers could develop paints that register important environmental changes. The color changing paint could be an early warning system for structural steel, with the microcapsules tailored to release dye when the material is subjected to forces that are close to their maximum capacity. This would give building managers an early warning system for structural damage. Armed with this forewarning, damage to the structure could be limited and repair costs possibly reduced.

Although reactive paints are still in development, their possible uses can be an important boost to safety in a commercial or manufacturing setting. Reactive paint could be developed to react to heat, the presence of certain chemicals, radiation and many other environmental factors are commonly encountered in modern industry.