Now that China is part of the global manufacturing scene, it is facing problems that the Western world has had to address for many years. The influx of industrial enterprises, both from national and foreign companies, is replacing the landscape that was previously devoted to farming. The urbanization and industrialization of China has brought not only economic growth and prosperity, but also the problems of any modern nation, including pollution from untreated household and industrial waste.

As China gears up for the 2008 Olympics, the government is even more aware of how it wants to present its nation to the world - and is specifically asking manufacturers to curb pollution from their plants or suffer the consequences of a shutdown. Further, Beijing is expected to invest 12.46 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion) between 2006 and 2010 to control the worsening water pollution. The proposal is designed to ensure a cleaner water supply for the city and its 16 million residents.

Polluted Lake Water

One such area in China experiencing the effects of pollution is Tai Lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China. According to a report from the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, Tai Lake supplies more than 33 million people with water for drinking and farming needs, and serves as a means of flood control and aquaculture. In addition to providing shipping routes and economically supporting the area with fisheries, the lake aids in waste disposal, thus uncontrolled and untreated wastes from manufacturing facilities, fertilizer plants, and households are seriously compromising the ecosystem of Tai Lake. To date, approximately 2,000 chemical manufacturing companies have been notified by the government to shut down operations.  

For manufacturers in the region who use zinc phosphates and other solvent-based chemicals in their finishing processes, an even larger problem is looming: the Chinese government will no longer grant operating permits to companies using environmentally compromising technology. These companies are faced with the dilemma of either ceasing their manufacturing operations in China or finding an alternative to the zinc phosphate finishing process.

LORD MetalJacket®Corrosion Control Coatings, a high-performance, aqueous-based coating developed by LORD Corp., does not require zinc phosphates as a component in the finishing process and therefore can help manufacturers meet pollution-control regulations. The LORD MetalJacket system is environmentally friendly, as it contains no hazardous components, generates minimal hazardous waste and sludge, and uses no toxic acids or heavy metals. Air and wastewater emissions are nearly eliminated.

A Non-Solvent Solution

According to Todd Wallis, Global Market manager for the MetalJacket product line, the finishing process is a crucial part of manufacturing, particularly for automotive components and subassemblies.

Although air and water pollution are both of concern in the Tai Lake region, it is the pollution from the cleaning and phosphatizing processes that are directly impacting the water in the area. Heavy metals, such as zinc, lead, chrome and cadmium, impact wastewater or effluent streams and are controlled by either a wastewater treatment system, hauling off the wastewater or conversion to other technologies. However, there are often not direct offsets to these inorganic products.

“As part of the manufacturing process, zinc phosphate has two main functions: it provides corrosion protection to the manufactured parts, and acts as an interface between the substrate and the primer,” Wallis explained. “The environmental problems occur during the finishing process, where oils, greases, dirt and other contaminates, such as zinc phosphate, become part of the wastewater.”

Meeting China's Codes

With the MetalJacket process, a manufacturer can achieve corrosion protection and even improve the part’s functional performance without using zinc phosphate. This is especially important for manufacturers in China who must meet newly legislated environmental regulations in order to continue or even begin a manufacturing operation.

“For a manufacturer in China who is looking to build a new plant or refurbish an existing facility, it would be advantageous to install the MetalJacket system,” Wallis said. “Not only does our MetalJacket process result in less environmental impact, it also is more cost effective, provides higher productivity and produces a better performing product.”

As an example, Wallis related the experience LORD Corp. had with a major tier-one supplier in China. This company was adding capacity and building a new plant, including the addition of a spray line for a chrome-containing product. By integrating the MetalJacket system, the company was able to eliminate both the zinc phosphate line and the chrome-containing product. This significantly reduced the new line’s environmental impact and allowed the company to obtain the needed operating permits - a win for everyone involved.   

More Benefits

Along with its environmental friendliness, the LORD MetalJacket system has other advantages, including the elimination of process steps and the ability to continue using established part designs.

Wallis explained how a LORD MetalJacket finishing operation can be automated to supply consistent quality with lower labor costs. “The MetalJacket system is an automated process,” said Wallis. “Manufactured parts are loaded on one end, the coating is applied in a uniform film thickness, and the products are off-loaded at the other end.”

LORD MetalJacket’s automated system allows the manufacturer to run a high-productivity, high-quality, consistent coating process day-after-day, resulting in less processing time and reduced costs.

A Business Necessity

For manufacturers operating in China, the question is not whether they should or should not look for alternatives to environmentally damaging chemicals, they must look for a technology that has less impact on the environment.

“We want manufacturers to know there is a new technology they can implement,” said Wallis. “MetalJacket can help manufacturers to meet environmental compliance while delivering a higher performance coating at a lower overall cost, and most important, will allow them to continue to operate their businesses.”

About LORD Corp.

With headquarters in Cary, NC, and sales in excess of  $700-MM, LORD Corp. is a privately held company that designs, manufactures, and markets devices and systems to manage mechanical motion and control noise and vibration; formulates, produces, and sells general-purpose and specialty adhesives and coatings; and develops products and systems using magnetically responsive technologies. With manufacturing in nine countries and offices in more than 15 major business centers, LORD employs more than 2,400 worldwide.

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