In the film formation of latex, particle deformation can occur by processes of wet sintering, dry sintering, or capillary action. When latex films dry nonuniformly and when particles deform and coalesce while the film is still wet, a detrimental skin layer will develop at the film surface. In their process model, Routh and Russel proposed that the operative particle deformation mechanism can be determined by the values of control parameters on a deformation map. Here, the film formation processes of three methyl methacrylate/butyl acrylate copolymer latexes with high glass transition temperatures (T(g)), ranging from 45 to 64 °C, have been studied when heated by infrared radiation. Adjusting the infrared (IR) power density enables the film temperature, polymer viscosity, and evaporation rate during latex film formation to be controlled precisely. Different polymer particle deformation mechanisms have been demonstrated for the same latex under a variety of film formation process conditions. When the temperature is too high, a skin layer develops. On the other hand, when the temperature is too low, particles deform by dry sintering, and the process requires extended time periods. The deduced mechanisms can be interpreted and explained by the Routh-Russel deformation maps. Film formation of hard (high T(g)) coatings is achieved without using coalescing aids that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is a significant technical achievement.
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