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Seeds are small granule-like defects that occur randomly over acoating surface badly marring the
appearance (see the Figure). They maybe due to dirt, but usually are more widespread and more
damaging toappearance than are most dirt defects. Seeds often are due to a problemwithin the paint
itself such as undispersed or flocculated pigment,particles of gelled resin, resin/pigment
agglomerates precipitated bysolvent shock, or the products of chemical reactions between
paintcomponents or impurities and reactive pigments such as zinc oxide.Possible root causes include
dirty production equipment and poorhousekeeping, inadequate cleaning of equipment between
batches(particularly where two paints or resins are not compatible) andincompatible components in
a paste or paint. Other possible causesinclude inadequate pigment dispersion or poor pigment
stabilization. Apigment may be dispersed initially, but then flocculate because it hasnot been
stabilized properly. A paste may be clean, but an overly rapidletdown, too large a temperature
difference between the paste andletdown vehicle or vehicle-paste incompatibility may cause
The most useful tool for detecting and observing seeds is a light microscope. Seeds in pastes or wet
paints usually are obvious under the microscope, but identification of the composition of the seed is
more difficult. Undispersed or flocculated pigment is readily seen in wet paints, but flocculates may
not be noticeable in pastes with high pigment loadings. Other seed material such as dirt may be
identifiable by microscopy. If necessary, seeds can be filtered out and analyzed by IR or other
techniques. If the problem appears to due to the formulation itself, the microscope also is helpful.
For example, component or paste-letdown vehicle incompatibilities can be evaluated by
placing droplets of two components or paste and letdown next to each other under a cover slip and
observing their willingness to mix. Another technique is to make a small lab batch of the paint,
removing a drop after every step, observing it under the microscope and noting where in the
process seeds begin to appear.

Seeds often form in the paint as it is being

manufactured, but may develop on storage. They
usually can be removed by filtration (and often a
clogged filter is the first sign of seeding), but
prevention is a better solution. Plant equipment
must be kept clean and batches must be filtered
into clean containers. Particular attention must be
paid to pigment dispersion and letdown
procedures, both in the lab and the plant.
Formulations must be checked for stability before
they go to manufacturing. Microscopy before and
after hot room or other aging can be very useful.
Microscopy of lab or production paints rarely is done, but is a rapid method for picking out problem
formulations or batches.
"Coatings Clinic" is intended to provide a better understanding of the many defects and failures that
affect the appearance and performance of coatings. We invite you to send your questions,

comments, experiences and/or photos of coatings defects to Cliff Schoff, c/o "Coatings Clinic,"
CoatingsTech, 492 Norristown Rd., Blue Bell, PA 19422; or email
COPYRIGHT 2005 Federation of Societies for Coatings Technology
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Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.