Page 682
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 9

I Introduction

II The Australian Chemical Industry

III Pharmaceuticals

IV Chemists In Other Industries

V The Dawn Of Modern Chemical Industry - High Pressure Synthesis

VI The Growth Of Synthetic Chemicals - Concentration, Rationalisation And International Links

VII Australian Industrial Chemical Research Laboratories

VIII The Plastics Industry

IX The Paint Industry
i The pioneers
ii The early years - home- and trade-made paints
iii Industrial manufacture
iv Some important developments in the 1920s and 30s
v Rapid growth in the 1950s and 60s
vi Some Australian inventions
vii Recent trends
viii Pigments manufacture
ix Trends in the chemical industry in the 1980s

X Acknowledgements



Contact us
The Paint Industry

The Australian paint industry[126] provides interesting contrasts and parallels to the explosives industry. Contrasts in that explosives were introduced with dramatic inventions in three, perhaps four revolutionary steps while paints, world-wide, were typical of a process of incremental evolution rather than revolution. To some extent, at least in the twentieth century, this was due to the lead role of polymer chemistry. As new basic building stones -polymers, plastics -were invented they penetrated progressively into paint. The process was not one-sided; practical colloid chemistry in Australia owes a great deal to empiricism and research in paints. Explosives chemistry, on the other hand, contributed less to chemical evolution outside its own field, largely because of its nature. Parallels, in that explosives were a service industry to mining as paints were a service industry to the motor car and housing, two powerful driving forces of Australian technological development. Australia's vastness favoured the motorcar and the motorcar in turn encouraged the urban sprawl with its multitude of individual houses. Most of them needed paint, inside and out, in contrast to Europe and even the USA, where much of housing was compressed into large apartments with brick and mortar finishes. The widespread use of wood in housing, with problems of fungal attack in a warm climate, and Australia's strong light stimulated the use of bright paints. They provide protection against, and blended well with, the country's bright sun. The wide open landscape in many ways resembles the American plains and similar living patterns evolved. This facilitated transfer of advances into a similar, albeit much smaller market.

Paint technology had other characteristics favourable to local development. It was batch technology, less amenable to capital intensive, continuous processes than chemicals, particularly petrochemicals. Paint in small quantities was sensitive to transport costs, long time storage and taste. All this favoured local manufacture in a spread of small, medium and a few large companies[127] totalling by 1985 some 110 to 120. The industry developed well and interacted with international technology in a balanced manner, with give and take, import and some export. In terms of sales of technology, which is much more amenable to export than paint itself, it performed better than many segments of the manufacturing industry. Its contribution to local manufacture is very high, not only in the industry itself (97-98 per cent) but also as a local component in major other industries, cars, whitegoods, housing, etc. It is, of course, part of Australia's do-it-yourself tradition, which has done much to reduce the cost of housing and maintenance. It is particularly in the simplification of this activity -easier application -that Australians have made technical contributions.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 716, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher