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THE BINDERS USED IN COMMERCIAL COATINGS are organic polymers, the molecular weights of which greatly influence the properties of the final coating . As a necessary result of the manufacturing processes, synthetic polymers are mixtures of compounds of similar molecular structure but varying molecular weight. For an exact understanding of the system, one must know the molecular weight and weight (or mole) fraction of each species, in other words, the molecular weight distribution. For many practical purposes, an average value of molecular weight suffices. The final cured paint film is a cross-linked system resembling a single massive molecule, where the concept of molecular weight has little meaning. Molecular weight determination is thus applied only to coating formulation ingredients. Many procedures have been used to determine molecular weight. We limit our discussion to the most practical methods, for which commercial instrumentation is available at reasonable price. Archaic methods and research methods are omitted, as are those techniques which are suitable for determination only of low molecular weight compounds.
Schmitt, Thomas M.
Manager, BASF Corp., Wyandotte, MI