Florida sunshine provides free
sustainable resource for weathering business.
South Florida’s abundance
of ultraviolet light, moisture and heat combine to offer a challenging
environment for product testing.
glass used in automotive windows and windshields is tested to ensure that
materials can withstand the ravages of ultraviolet light and heat.
DuPont Weathering Systems (DWS) has an infinite supply of
its principal raw material - Florida
weather. Long recognized as the “gold standard” for testing product durability,
climate is used to test the exposure limits of everything from car paint and
golf balls to hair dye.
A unit of the company’s Performance Coatings business, DWS has been in the
business of exposing, measuring and analyzing the effects of weather on
products of all kinds for nearly 80 years. DWS conducts exposure tests lasting
anywhere from a few weeks to several years on a 10-acre site near Hialeah, FL.
Its location, in a quiet residential area away from freeways and major air
routes, enhances the accuracy of testing because there is little environmental
fallout that could skew results.
“The real beauty of this operation is that we can bring the full range of
DuPont science and technology to bear on a universe of materials to explain the
mechanisms of degradation, make meaningful service-life predictions and even
suggest solutions for improving durability and other characteristics,” said
John G. McCool, vice president and general manager, DuPont Refinish Systems, the
manufacturer of automotive coatings used in collision repair. “It’s fascinating
to look at how our scientific capabilities have evolved since the 1920s, when
simple visual observations were the principal factor in weathering science.”
DuPont provides weathering studies for many of the company’s own businesses, as
well as for independent testing laboratories. The company receives new
challenges from companies whose products must survive the ravages of sun, heat
and humidity. Tests are designed to measure how weather might affect gloss,
adhesion, chemical degradation, cracking and other types of damage due to
exposure. Materials routinely tested at Hialeah
include films, plastics, pigments, coatings, fibers, sealants and laminates.
“We test a huge range of materials and objects,” said Lesley Jacques, manager
of the DuPont Florida weathering station. “Often, testing a finished product is
the only way to learn how a certain material might interact with other
components under severe-weather conditions. For example, the foam in a seat
cushion might react with its fabric cover, or vice versa. One material can
change the properties of another with which it is in
Jacques, a marine biologist by training, has tested plastic garbage cans, golf
balls, photovoltaic solar panels, soft-drink bottles, windshields with plastic
film interlayers and flags created with DuPont printing inks, as well as the
usual assortment of automotive and industrial finishes. An interesting project
now under way involves testing the effectiveness and life cycle of
environmentally improved, biologically degradable insecticides aimed at
controlling termites, a constant threat to Florida homeowners.
“This is also the perfect environment for testing building materials,” said
Jacques. “We have the capability to test virtually anything that has to stand
up to climatic extremes, including roofing, siding, textiles and geotextiles.
We can do the whole job, from test design right through laboratory analysis.”
About the CompanyDuPont
is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts
science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer
and healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries
and regions, DuPont offers a range of products and services for markets that
include agriculture and food, building and construction, communications, and
For more information, contact Lesley Jacques, phone (305) 822-8466, or e-mail