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Colourful future for paint technologists

With the paint industry growing twice as fast as India’s GDP and the automobile and construction industries on a roll, job opportunities for qualified paint technologists are multiplying

ith the infrastructure and
construction industries belatedly gathering unprece-dented momentum, India’s booming paints manufacturing and service industry (annual sales: Rs.4,900 crore), offers great career opportunities, particularly for paint technologists. Set to take off in a big way (India’s per capita consumption of paint is less than 1 kg against more than 25-30 kg in developed countries), the paint industry is expected to show at least twice the growth of India’s GDP in coming years.

Any surface — metallic or otherwise — needs a protective coating, referred to as ‘paint technology application’. This consists of a combination of processes: chemical treatment followed by a decorative layer (paint). Paint technology entails understanding the chemistry of each ingredient (including resin, polymers and pigments) constituting paint. The job of paint technologists is to formulate paints for differing needs and requirements. For instance, paints used for aircraft vary from those used for motor cars and in domestic households. Paint techno-logists formulate appropriately mixed paints and resin (a raw material) for the purpose of new product development, product upgradation, and new applications development.

Paint technologists can choose to work in any of the following departments of paint manufacturing companies: research and development (for which one needs an M.Tech); production, marketing and as technical assistants/ executives who work on clients’ sites.

With the automobile and construction industries on a roll, job opportunities for qualified technologists have multiplied. They are much required by paint manufacturing companies; the auto industry; furniture manufacturers; and associated raw material and allied industries (e.g pigment/ extender manufacturers, resin/ polymer or additive suppliers). With professional paint technologists in short supply, pay packets are getting fatter, varying with size of employer companies. The minimum start-up pay is around Rs.1.75-2 lakh per annum. The Armed Forces are also big employers of paint technologists.

The best paint technologists are chemical engineering graduates of one of the 17 National Institutes of Technology (formerly the Regional Engineering Colleges) or the globally renowned Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras; Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University; Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani.

Other institutes offering B.Tech degrees in paint technology are Fergusson College, Pune; Institute of Chemical Technology, Bombay; University Dept. of Chemical Technology (UDCT), Mumbai. Moreover the Garware Institute of Career Education and Development, Mumbai offers a diploma programme in paint application technology. Most universities offer an M.Sc programme in polymer technology which is also useful.

"The paint industry has witnessed increased activity particularly in the industrial paints segments with the entry of MNCs in the automobiles, consumer durables and construction industries. Simultaneously public awareness of the corrosion-resistant qualities of paint is increasing, which is a huge boost to this industry. To keep pace with demand, there’s need for many more paint technologists and companies special-ising in this field have to raise their standards to utilise new technologies being developed worldwide," says Shahaveer Jamshedji, director of the Bombay-based Noble Paints, founded by his grandfather in 1934. Noble Paints churns out 200,000 litres a month of industrial and decorative paints and is the first in the country to produce fire-resistant paints.

An alumnus of Canada’s Waterloo University with a bachelor of applied sciences degree, Jamshedji was all set to read for his Masters and Ph D at the University of Dakota, which boasts perhaps the best paint technology programme worldwide, when he received a call from home to come aboard Noble Paints.

"With the industrial paints industry growing at 10-12 percent, this career option may not be as cool as computers, but it’s challenging as you always need to innovate. There’s a bright future for professionally qualified paint technologists," says Jamshedji.

Indra Gidwani (Mumbai)

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