PPG invests nearly $8 million in Hampton coatings center
February 19, 2016 12:00 AM
Trainees learn auto finishing techniques with PPG material in the expanded refinish training center at PPG’s Allison Park Coatiings Innovation Center in Hampton.
John Furar, manager of PPG’s Global Application Research Lab at the company’s coatings innovation center.
The new spray oven booth in operation at PPG’s coating innovation center in Hampton.
David Bem, PPG vice president, science and technology and chief technology officer-elect.
By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
PPG Industries on Thursday unveiled nearly $8 million in upgrades to its Allison Park Coatings Innovation Center where scientists develop and test paints and sealants for autos, trucks and equipment used in the industrial and aerospace industries.
The renovated facilities in Hampton include state-of-the-art laboratories where technicians can simulate conditions ranging from 100-degree deserts to rainy, humid tropics in order to assess how well PPG’s paints perform.
“We can make sure the coatings are applicable,” said John Furar, manager of the applications center where the environmental testing occurs.
More than $4 million was spent on that part of the space. It includes two robotic spray booths where temperatures, humidity levels and air flow can be adjusted to replicate the conditions in manufacturing plants where PPG coatings are applied.
During a Thursday tour for media and local elected officials including U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, whose district includes the facility, robots in a climate-controlled booth sprayed coats of bright red paint onto metal.
That process “mimics an automotive production line,” Mr. Furar said.
Large auto producers such as Ford Motor Co. operate plants worldwide, he said, “so conditions can change from factory to factory.”
Before PPG installed the lab that allows for simulated conditions, “We were at the whim of outside temperatures.” It was tough to measure adhesion, durability and other properties of coatings as they were applied to surfaces.
Other upgrades to the research center over the last several years include expanded lab space to accommodate more staff and equipment used to develop and test polymers and other key ingredients that go into coatings; and a 9,000-square-foot training center for individuals who apply PPG coatings at automotive body shops and collision-repair shops.
About 370 people work at the center that opened in 1974 and is one of about 70 research labs the Downtown-based coatings giant operates.
Coatings accounts for more than 90 percent of PPG’s annual sales of $15 billion; about 3 percent, or $450 million, is invested in research and development.
“This is where the innovation engine comes from,” said David Bem, vice president, science and technology, who will also take on the job of chief technology officer March 1.
The research center in Hampton has added about 100 new jobs since 2011 as a result of expanding the facility.
Joyce Gannon: email@example.com or 412-263-1580.
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