Case Study: Making a Case for Floor Care Technology

June 19, 2001
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More than two years ago, researchers at Betco Corp., a Toledo, Ohio-based cleaning supply and equipment manufacturer, began working on a project to develop a higher solids floor finish for use on resilient tile that would incorporate all the positive attributes of the various premium floor finishes available in the marketplace.

Floor finishes are complex materials that generally utilize between eight and 15 separate raw materials. Varying the type and level of each component can modify specific properties of each individual floor finish. Physical properties, such as buff-ability, dry time, scuff resistance, and viscosity, are all directly related to the type and ratio of raw materials used.

In conventional zinc cross-linked floor finishes, the acrylate-based polymer is the backbone of the system, providing the network around which the waxes and plasticizers bond to form a continuous film on the floor. The major limiting factor in developing finishes with higher levels of active ingredients has been associated with the polymer itself.

In response, Betco developed MMT/50Ô (Macro Molecular Polymer Technology), an advanced polymer technology. Polymers manufactured to the company’s specifications have a narrowly defined particle size, with a precisely controlled particle size distribution. When formulated into a floor finish, relatively low-viscosity, high-solids floor finishes are attainable. Betco has incorporated MMT/50 into a new floor finish, BetcoBestÔ.

Allen Boyd, owner and operator of Jan-Pro Cleaning Systems of Charlotte, N.C., was one of many cleaning contractors asked to partake in a blind test of BetcoBest™. “Joe Hendricks [Betco Region Manager] asked me if I would like to try a new product that was recently developed,” said Boyd. “I had no idea what the finish was because the container wasn’t marked with a product name; there were just some numbers on the bucket.”

The finish can be applied using a conventional string mop with no noticeable increase in mop drag. BetcoBest, as the end product is known, appears milky white during the application process, drying quickly to a transparent film. And as it contains considerably higher solids than most conventional floor finishes, it builds gloss much faster.

“My guys were a bit apprehensive about the milky color of the product, but once they laid it down, their concerns went away,” said Boyd.

Laboratory testing, following procedures outlined in ASTM D 1455, showed that the 60-degree gloss of two coats of Betco Best was 53.5 on vinyl composition tile (VCT). Additional testing demonstrated that four coats of Betco Best dries at least 50% faster than six coats of a typical, conventional floor finish. Stripping tests in Betco’s laboratory revealed four coats of Betco Best can be stripped in 20 seconds.

It is believed that the unique particle size inherent in the MMT/50 technology is responsible for the performance characteristics of Betco Best. In addition to allowing research chemists to formulate at a higher overall solids level, the polymer may in fact behave in a unique fashion during film formation.

The surface of VCT appears smooth to the naked eye, but actually contains thousands of tiny pores and crevices. The depth and size of these “surface voids” vary considerably, depending on manufacturer, grade, and age. It has been theorized that MMT/50 does not penetrate as deeply into the VCT’s pores as a conventional finish. The result is more product near the surface of the tile after one coat, helping to build gloss more quickly, while at the same time reducing waste. This phenomenon also is responsible for the quickness and completeness with which the product can be stripped from the floor’s surface.

Although testing is still underway to study the full effects of this new technology, it is believed that it will only help to extend the life expectancy of the floor, as well as fully imparting the aesthetics associated with today’s premium floor finishes.

“I liked the coverage, the high gloss level, and especially the durability of this product. This is something I would definitely buy,” said Boyd.

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