Dr.   Mark   D.   Soucek

Dr. Mark D. Soucek

Professor of Polymer Engineering
Professor of Chemistry
Department of Polymer Engineering
Phone: 330-972-2583
Email: msoucek@uakron.edu

Powder Coatings Center - Specialization in UV-Curable Powder Coatings

Dr. Mark D. Soucek
Director of Powder Coatings Center
Institute of Polymer Engineering
University of Akron
Akron, OH  44325
Office (330)972-2583

Overview (Center Vision)

The idea of creating a Powder Coatings Center in Institute of Polymer Engineering is to harness the newly acquired coating expertise of Dr. Soucek’s group with the established expertise polymer processing that already exists within the Polymer Engineering Institute.  There also will be liaisons, and participation when needed with the Institute of Polymer Science.  In this Center, there will be merging of the State-of-the-Art Academic equipment and fundamental theory with Industrial application.  It is envisioned as a place where companies can test their Powder Coatings ideas, in an academic setting, in conjunction with Academic Researchers with a wide range of experience from Powder Processing, Coatings Additives, Coatings Application, Curing Chemistry, and Coating Performance.  

Goals and Objectives

The major goal is to provide the coating and allied coating industry with a center where Powder Coatings would be researched, and new concepts in powder coatings would be developed.  In addition to new concept development, the center would also serve in a problem solving capacity.  


Presently there is not an academic institution, which specialized in Powder Coatings. Companies have a need to access expertise and Powder Coating Equipment for Product Development, Technical problem solving, and non-biased Powder Coating evaluation.  

Regional Significance

The University of Akron is strategically located between the major coatings centers of Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.  Other coating centers such as Chicago, Cincinnati, Buffalo are close.  


Powder coating equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and end users would be partnered with academic experts in their field of interest.  

Powder Coatings Research

Processing Focus

The processing of binders, crosslinkers, flow additives, pigments, fillers, and dispersing agents into a powder coating occurs within one vessel concurrently.  How the components are fed into the reactor with respect to sequence, pre-mixing of components, residence time, and temperature of mixing or rapidity of cooling all have effects upon the manufacturing of powder.  This leads to many possibilities with respect to improvement optimization of manufacturing process.  

Application of Powder to Substrate

Electrodeposition either by spray or by fluidized bed technology is the normal mode of powder application.  Flame and plasma spray are also currently used for deposition of powders.  Companies with new technology would be welcome to demonstrate their technology within the center.  Application of powders to non-metallic substrates would have potential with respect to future development in new powder coating markets.  

Development and Evaluation of New Powder Coating Components

The development of new binders, crosslinkers, or additives to move forward powder coating technology is a continuing effort.  New epoxides not based on Bisphenol-A are an area of opportunity.  Polyester powders not based on Terephathlic acids, and in particular cycloaliphatic polyester are another area for opportunity.  Acrylates and polyesters for UV-curable powder coatings is a third area of proposed research.  With respect to crosslinkers, Dicy, TGIC, or isocyanates come under constant regulatory scrutiny.  Thus, there is a need for environmentally benign crosslinkers in the powder coating industry.  Lastly, the need for additives is ongoing.  Modification of flow, new dispersing agents for pigments, compatabilizing agents for powder cross-contamination, adhesion agents, are a few of the research areas needed for powder coatings.  

Specialization in UV-Curable Powders

The merging of UV and Powder coatings technology creates research opportunities for industry and academics.  The limiting factor of powder technology is thermal energy.  Heat provides the energy for the coalescence of the powder into a continuous film and crosslinking reactions.  Unfortunately, these two processes are concomitant and competitive.  With UV-curable powders, the powders are melted and fused together via heat energy, and when coalescences are complete the crosslinking reaction can be initiated via UV-irradiation.  The advantage of this approach is that the coalescence and curing (crosslinking) of the coatings are separated into two steps, and consequently be controlled independently.  From an industrial standpoint, UV-curable coatings offer avenues into hitherto untapped applications and markets.  Consequently, UV-curable coatings are both the cutting edge technology and have the most potential for market growth in the powder coatings sector.  

Participating Faculty with Research Interests

Dr. Mark D. Soucek, Associate Professor, Department of Polymer Engineering      
Dr. Soucek’s group specializes in preparing new photo-curable oligomers, studying the curing kinetics, and evaluating the coating properties.  Dr, Soucek’s group has experience in the preparation of new free radical and cationic initiated oligomers, reactive diluents, and additives.  The UV-curing kinetics have been studied using real-time IR.  The UV-curing kinetics can also be studied with the first photo-modulated DSC.  Our group has experience in evaluating coating performance via standard ASTM coating testing; and state-of –art toughness, weatherability, and corrosion testing.  

Dr. James L. White, Professor, Department of Polymer Engineering
Dr. White founded the department with his expertise polymer compounding.  Dr. White’s group would study the mixing process the UV-curable powder coatings within the extruders.  

Dr. Mukerrem Cakmak, Associate Professor, Department of Polymer Engineering
Dr. Cakmak’s group interest lies in on-line monitoring of curing and the development of stress during curing via laser techniques.  Dr. Cakmak uses a fiber optic Raman Spectroscopy to monitor cure kinetics on coating lines.  

Dr. Erol Sancaktar, Associate Professor, Department of Polymer Engineering
Dr. Sancaktar’s group is devoted to the study of adhesion of polymers to substrates.  An initial emphasis will be on adhesion of powder coatings on metal substrates.  

Proposed Projects

Powder and UV-Curable Powder Coatings with Improved Exterior Durability
 One of the limitations of any coatings in particular powder coatings is exterior durability.  A non-aromatic polyesters and epoxides will be prepared as powder and UV-curable powder coatings.  The polyesters will be based on cycloaliphatic diacids, and diols, formulated with TMP.  The powders will be crosslinked with uretdiones, dicy, or TGIC.  The UV-curable formulations will be prepared as both UV-curable free radical and cationic coatings.  The free radical systems will be functionalized HEMA via an IPDI linkage.  The cationically initiated systems will be cured with a multifunctional cycloaliphatic epoxide crosslinker.  

Development of Non-Toxic Crosslinkers for Powder and UV-Curable Powder Coatings
New crosslinkers will be developed which can be used with either thermally cured powder coatings or UV-curable powder coatings.  New advances in derivitization of seed oils have lead to a new class of seed oil based epoxide, which is suitable for powder coatings.    It is anticipated that exploitation of the new norbornylene oxide linseed oil based oligomers will result in a platform for a family of relatively non-toxic, easy-to-handle epoxide crosslinker fro use with acid functional polyesters or UV-curable with a cationic initiator.  

Investigation of New Additives for Powder and UV-Curable Powder Coatings
The field of additives for powder coatings and in particular UV-Curable powder coatings is still emerging.  Flow, compatibilization, and pigment dispersing additives are areas of ongoing research.  Benzoin is typically used as a flow-leveling (plasticizer) agent.  As a consequence, volatiles are emitted during cure.  When changing powder lines especially from acrylic based powder cross-contamination is an issue, and pigment dispersion in powders is always a problem.  Designing multifunctional additives for powder coatings is one method to approach the problem.  Recently, fluorinated oligomers have been observed to provide both flow and compatibilization between powders.  The fluorinated oligomers were shown to alleviate cross-contamination of powders.  

Development and Investigation of New Photoinitiators Designed Specifically for UV-Curable Powder Coatings
Most of the photoinitiators were developed for liquid UV-curable coatings.  As a consequence, there are miscibility and dispersibility problems when these photoinitiators are included in powder systems.  Also, since powders are processed with heat in extruders, photoinitiator stability to thermal energy is more of a problem than in the traditional liquid UV-curable coatings.  In addition to new solid free radical photoiniatitors, it is proposed that a new generation of cationic photoiniators be developed for vinyl ether, and cycloaliphatic epoxide UV-curable powders.  


Powder Mixing Equipment
Powder Grinders
Electrostatic Spray Gun
Electrostatic Fluidized Bed
Programmable Thermal and IR Ovens with Manufacturing Line Capability
UV-Processors with IR-Oven
Photo-Modulated DSC
High Resolution TGA with GC-MS Capability
UV-Initiated Real-Time IR Kinetics Measurement
Fracture Toughness for Coatings
SEM, TEM, SAX, X-Ray, Image Analysis
QUV Cabinet
Salt-Spray Cabinet
Elcometer Adhesion Tool
Tukon Hardness
Color Matching Equipment
Fiber Optic Raman Spectrometer