Functional Additives

Are Surging Numbers of MLB Home Runs a Result of Water-based Polyurethane Resin Technology?

Posted by Rick Ackerman on Apr 24, 2023 4:09:56 PM
Rick Ackerman
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Red sox game and the effects of water-based polyuratene in the MLB league copyIn 1994, Fischer Industrial Coatings of Westchester, Ohio, developed a unique water-based polyurethane dispersion (PUD) to dip coat baseball bats in production at Hillerich & Bradsby (HB) in Louisville, Kentucky, for Hall of Famer Ken Griffey of the Seattle Mariners. Griffey cited* "his new bat as a crucial contributor to his success in April, May and, June of 1994, including 32 home runs, 64 RBIs, and a .318 batting average". The PUD coating applied during the manufacturing process at HB utilized a 37% solids aliphatic PUD resin featuring low VOC 182 grams per liter, rapid cure, high film build and great depth of image. In addition, the bat coating exhibited extraordinary adhesion, along with resistance to abrasion, water, perspiration, and impact, proving its ability to stand up to major league punishment.

The PUD-coated bats were lab tested extensively before major league baseball would place them in the hands of its players. The bats were well received. Ken Griffey commented that the new bat had more “pop!”

Twenty-three years have passed and the demand for high-quality coatings for a variety of products continues, along with lower VOC requirements evolving to no cosolvent resins with all the same characteristics of the traditional NMP containing water-based polyurethane dispersions of the past. A potential cosolvent-free water-based PUD resin provides many benefits such as:

  • quick drying,
  • NMP free,
  • compatibility with sensitive substrates,
  • minimal VOC content, and
  • films with properties ranging from very hard to elastomeric.

Also read: 3 Reasons Why Polyurethane Dispersions are The Best Choice for Your Coating


The key challenge is formulating solvent-free PUDs to provide a smooth, clean film with excellent properties -- particularly with very hard PUD resins. Typically, the coalescence stage of film forming is the critical challenge with solvent-free PUDs. A coalescence agent provides several characteristics:

  • evaporation rate,
  • ease of addition,
  • odor,
  • color,
  • water solubility,
  • hydrolytic stability, and
  • VOC contribution.

 Experience formulating solvent-free resins can produce coatings and adhesives for diverse substrates with very low VOC and high performance for end-use products in flooring, automotive, furniture, consumer electronics, film conversion, and lamination adhesives.

When physical attributes like abrasion blocking, gloss retention, impact resistance and overall toughness are required, cosolvent-free water-based polyurethane dispersions can meet those demands.

For additional information about formulating cosolvent water-based polyurethane dispersions, please contact us.

*This story was originally featured in the PCI Magazine

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Topics: Polyurethane Dispersions, MLB, Baseball