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The measurement and process experts
Headquarters Dortmund (Germany), subsidiaries: Wuppertal (Germany) and Ypsilanti, MI, USA
Founded 2014
Number of employees 10

Coatings development in Lab 4.0 at BASF

BASF SE is not only a global player as a manufacturer of chemical products but has always been one of the most important process innovators in the chemical industry. For its new developments in the coatings resins sector, the company has called on the expertise of ORONTEC's automation and digitalization specialists for building the Digital Material Profiling Lab, one of the world's most modern coatings laboratories, at the Ludwigshafen headquarters.


One component of the comprehensive Lab 4.0 project is contact angle measurement with the MSA from KRÜSS.

A challenging question seeks innovative answers 

Coatings are highly complex material systems that fulfill several material functions simultaneously and, of course, also enhance or even determine the aesthetic effect of coated products. Developing coatings is demanding - and often a Sisyphean task, because functional formulation components often do not work together harmoniously but influence each other and thus change properties such as hardness or color value. For a coating development lab, this amounts to endless series of tests and a laborious, almost unmanageable amount of data to evaluate. And if an optimized formulation is to be adapted for a different color shade or a raw material is replaced by a more sustainable one, the work starts all over again.


When BASF was founded in 1865, aniline, one of the first industrially produced basic materials for dyes, was the company's most important product. Today, BASF SE is a global company with countless product divisions, but expertise in paints and coatings is still in the company's DNA. Consequently, BASF is taking an innovative approach to challenging development research for coatings with their ED-Digital Material Profiling Lab: The sample profile data is distributed throughout the company worldwide and enables fast and targeted developments for specific customer requirements.


The world’s largest integrated chemical complex in the world: Ludwigshafen Verbund Site (BASF SE)
The world’s largest integrated chemical complex in the world: Ludwigshafen Verbund Site (BASF SE)

The paint lab of the future is already working today 

"Digitalization is the future!" says Priya Anand, Product Development Manager (Digital Material Profiling Lab) at BASF. A future that is already present for her: Dr. Anand heads the Lab and is on a mission to further advance digital transformation and use the results for data-driven modeling. The lab automation scanners were designed and developed in close collaboration with Dortmund-based ORONTEC. ORONTEC is an automation and digitalization specialist for the coatings industry; at BASF SE they were able to implement their most extensive project to date.


The automation lab at the Ludwigshafen headquarters covers the entire process of a coating sample analysis. In the first step, a high throughput formulation screening facility prepares the formulations, varying each according to predefined parameters. In the next step, different substrates are uniformly coated with the paint samples and cured. This is not only enormously fast, but also ensures standardized and user-independent sample preparation, which is crucial for the comparability and reproducibility of the data. The final step, which was implemented by ORONTEC, consists of characterizing the samples with a Q-Chain® Surface Scanner. This system determines material parameters such as color value, gloss, haze, DOI, dry film thickness, as well as wettability based on the contact angle. Finally, the automatically merged sample data of all these measurements are correlated with the composition of the respective formulation.

Automated surface scan including contact angle in the Digital Material Profiling Lab (BASF SE)
Automated surface scan including contact angle in the Digital Material Profiling Lab (BASF SE)

Wettability - a new standard parameter in automatic coating characterization 

ORONTEC’s modular Surface Scanner integrates measuring devices according to norms and standards of the coatings industry. When individual requirements exceed this, as was the case with BASF, ORONTEC develops the automation concept together with the customer. At BASF SE, ORONTEC integrated the measurement of the contact angle into the Surface Scanner system for the first time according to the requirements. This measured variable correlates with the water- and dirt-repellent as well as anti-corrosive properties of coated surfaces and therefore ultimately with the product service life and sustainability.


The KRÜSS Mobile Surface Analyzer – MSA implemented for the contact angle was already in use at BASF SE in conventional laboratory operation. In addition to its mobility and reliable, automatic analysis, the particularly fast measurement and results output also lead to the decision to include the instrument. ORONTEC was able to easily integrate the associated ADVANCE software into the complex automation and data processing via an interface (API).


For KRÜSS, this is not the first integration into an automation system - however, for the first time, not only the water contact angle but also that of diiodomethane is measured to determine the surface free energy (SFE). This information provides a profile of surface wettability by polar and non-polar substances. The digital integration of this measurement procedure has only become possible through the development of the rapid One-Click SFE method.


There is a spirit of optimism in the coatings industry - for ORONTEC, the opportunities for development and synergy utilization through digitalization are only just beginning. The project implemented at BASF SE impressively demonstrates how efficient coatings development can become through automation and system intelligence.

A satisfied voice

Integrating handheld measuring devices is our expertise. KRÜSS was an ideal partner here to realize the integration into our Surface Scanner System for our customer.

Ralph Wörheide

Managing Director, ORONTEC

About BASF


At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 111,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio comprises six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €87.3 billion in 2022. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the United States. Further information at www.basf.com.



As digitalizers and automators, we at  ORONTEC have evolved from a literal garage company into the leading provider of digital system solutions for measurement methods in the paint and coatings industry. Founded in 2014 by entrepreneurs Ralph Jan Wörheide and Hendrik Hustert, ORONTEC now operates from our headquarters in Dortmund (Germany) and branch offices in Wuppertal (Germany) and Michigan (USA) within a global network of industry customers and organizations such as the European Centre for Dispersion Technologies (ECD). Further information at www.orontec.com/en.

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