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Comex Battles Mexican Graffiti with Nanocoating Technology



Nanocoatings are helping to keep Mexico's infrastructure graffiti-free.



Published November 1, 2010
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Graffiti has not yet become high art in most areas of Mexico, so enterprising paint and coatings companies are cashing in on the multi-billion-dollar global problem with nanotech-based products.
    
Comex Group, for example, sells Deletum 3000 as its premier anti-graffiti coating throughout Mexico, but is not yet selling it in the United States, according to a source at Comex's U.S. headquarters in Lonetree, Colorado.
    
Deletum 3000 was originally developed by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Professor Victor Castaño, a prolific nanotech researcher at the University's Center for Applied Physics and Technology, in Santiago de Queretaro. The technology for Deletum 3000 was sold to Comex by UNAM in 2004.
    
Recently, Deletum 3000 was honored by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, which was established in April 2005 as a partnership between the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Castaño continues work on nanotech coatings, and serves as a consultant to industry, like CG2 NanoCoatings Inc., of Ottawa.
    
The Comex product is a two-component system, including a high-performance acrylic urethane base, plus nanoparticles, oil and water-proof molecules, and a cross-linking agent. It is sold in six colors and is available in 1-, 4-, and 20-liter packages.
    
Typically, there are three types of anti-graffiti coatings, including permanent, semi-permanent and sacrificial. Permanent coatings are formulated to last through multiple solvent cleanings, and spray paint does not generally penetrate the surface. Semi-permanent coatings also may be cleaned with solvents, but each cleaning wears away part of the barrier, requiring reapplications of the base coating. Sacrificial coatings are water-based. Providing a smooth wax or polymer surface that will wash off with the graffiti.
    
Competing manufacturers of anti-graffiti paint include Ameron, Dupont, Ecological Coatings, Graffiti EnviroSafe, Safety Point and others. Among recent developments in anti-graffiti paints is a hardener developed by Bayer that enhances performance of waterborne polyurethane paints. Another approach has been developed by Glass Fusion International, which markets a silica-based coating that is applied over paint to resist graffiti. Costs for anti-graffiti paints and coatings can range from $60 a gallon to hundreds of dollars.
    
While the exact cost of graffiti removal is difficult to sum, in some countries, like the United Kingdom, the cost is estimated at $1.5 billion per year, and some cities like Los Angeles are estimated to spend well over $100 million per year on the problem. Last year, Los Angeles enacted a law requiring new buildings to include anti-graffiti coating, unless the owners sign a contract vowing to remove any graffiti on their property within 72 hours from notification. In New York, applying graffiti can result in a $1,500 fine.
    
On the other hand, a successful graffiti artist may find his or her work in the Brooklyn Museum, or purchased for corporate logo use. According to Wikipedia, France's graffiti group 123Klan "has designed and produced, logos and illustrations, shoes, and fashion for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Lamborghini, Coca Cola, Stussy, Sony, Nasdaq."


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