Paint: The “Glow” Revolution

Recent developments in luminous paint technology have created an entirely new branch of “glow in the dark” paints, signs and extruded products – and we see a bright future for the category…

Every few years a new range of products invigorates the retail Paint sector. In recent years we have seen the acceptance of many “special effect” paints – but the newest generation of paint products with “glow in the dark” properties is sure to cause a revolution in both Commercial and Home Décor applications.

Luminous paints have been around for many years (think of Grandpa’s wristwatch!), but such old-garde products were based on iridium and other toxic substances, and were therefore unsuitable for mainstream applications. Today, however, a new breed of non-toxic, phosphor-based materials and newly developed crystal powder technologies have led to the creation of safe and amazingly effective glow products.

Solar Safety Management (SSM), based in South Melbourne, Victoria, is at the frontline of this new wave of phosphorescent products. The company supplies a full range of pre-mixed luminous paints, signs and extruded products that would be ideal additions to any hardware store Paint Department. Moreover, SSM has just reached an agreement with “a major local paint company” to produce a large range of tinted glow paints – a move designed to enhance the Home Décor applications of the technology.

According to SSM’s Director, Zoran Ovuka, he started the company with a business partner in 2002, following many years of research and development.

“This technology is relatively new world wide,” he says. “General glow products have been available for some time, however the current ranges of long-life afterglow materials were first made available about a decade ago. Our interest in this area originated in the early 1990s and today we have products and strategies to implement the advantages to the industry. Furthermore, our ongoing commitment to research and development will continue to bring new technology to broader markets.

“Products such as long-life glow paint are relatively new to the marketplace, and only a limited number of worldwide suppliers have it available. This technology brings to the community enormous benefits in overall cost reduction, increased safety and environmental sustainability.”

How It Works
Phosphor-type materials are the key ingredient of all new-era glow products. It is “charged” by exposure to either natural or artificial light, so the paint glow properties are equally effective indoors and outdoors. This charge is then released as a visible green colour, even in total darkness, and no harmful radiation of any kind is emitted.

Zoran Ovuka, Director of Solar Safety Management in Melbourne

“We have other colour emissions available,” Zoran explains, “but the green is the most appropriate for our eyes.”

The visible afterglow of the product will vary according to the initial material quality and the amount of charge it has absorbed. For instance, a room exposed to standard interior lighting conditions can produce an effective emission that will endure for 2–10 hours. The recharge cycle of the material can go on for many years as the charge/discharge process is non-destructive to the phosphor.

Different Products
The other beauty of this technology is that it is highly workable in different configurations. SSM supplies glow products including: pre-mixed paint, plastic signs, extruded mouldings for stair-nosing strips and edgings, luminescent plastic helmets, adhesive tapes, plastic chains, cat eye markers and safety vests.

A normal factory in daytime painted with glow paint

“The paint is pre-mixed through a proprietary process and is ready made for the consumer,” says Zoran. “Colour variations are available, however – unlike ordinary paints – glow paint can be diluted too far, resulting in poor performance. Therefore, we encourage the consumer to follow proper mixing procedures.”

The same factory in darkness showing glow paint “pathways”AHJpaint04March05

The signs, which can feature “Exit” messages or other notices, are manufactured to specific requirements and standards. The base material can be adhesive label type, plastic or metal, depending on the client’s needs.

The stair-nosings are extruded from durable aluminium and have anti-slip as well as glow strips.

Applications
All products in the SSM range are branded under the Safety Path System™ banner, and safety is the obvious driving force behind many of these items. Glow paint has already been used to paint safety “pathway” stripes along corridors and walls in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, government buildings, factories, backyards and homes – any indoor or outdoor setting where power failure or night-time darkness might compromise safe egress from a property. “Some of the more notable clients include Snowy Hydro, major Australian developers, CSR Bradford Insulation, island resorts, mining companies, councils, universities and so forth,” says Zoran.

In addition, Zoran says he has been addressing many enquiries from architects and interior designers about general home applications. Household glow products can be applied to staircases, banisters, cornices, chair rails, kitchen benchtop edges, furniture and the borders of garden paths. Children’s bedrooms might also benefit from glow-in-the-dark painted animals on the ceiling!

As Zoran explains, the days of stubbing one’s toes on the way to the lavatory can be farewelled with some strategically placed glow paint.

As glow products become available in a wider range of textures and colours, retailers can anticipate the development of new and widespread architectural painting applications.

Applying SSM Glow PaintApply glow paint as you would apply any other paint product. Prepare and clean the surface, and then prime the surface with a standard white undercoat.
For best results use at least two coats of glow paint. The generic paint product is off-white/cream in colour when viewed in normal light, though alternative colours (pink/orange) are available. Broader ranges of Home Décor tints will be available in the near future. The finish is semi-gloss and is suitable for concrete floors that are subjected to foot traffic.
The glow properties remain effective for years, however fresh overcoats should be applied if surfaces are subjected to heavy soiling. Paint available in 1L, 5L & 10L tubs (larger upon request).

Inform & Educate

An SSM glow helmet in normal light…and below in complete darkness

In the meantime, SSM is consolidating global partnerships to spread the “glow” word to commercial and home improvement sectors and refine research and development practices. While SSM carries out its own research into new product designs, Zoran says he is in favour of maintaining close contacts with supplier manufacturers and similar industry groups.

“Locally, we have formed SAFER (Safety Accreditation & Fire Evacuation Regulations) – a special interest group of PACIA (Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association) – which represents our industry at all levels,” he says.

“The future of glow technology is bright! The benefits are reduced costs, greater safety and environmental sustainability. Safety Path System™ products available today are all beneficial to the consumer. We are well established and growing, with a fantastic feedback from our consumers.”

SSM products are available nationally. For more information about SSM glow products or its network of distributors, visitwww.solarsafety.com.au or call (03) 9645 5505. Catalogues are available.

By John Power
Cartoon by John Allison’s Witty Sketche