Fame for Those in Liquid and Powder

Since 2014, Products Finishing has honored those in the electroplating field by inducting them into its Hall of Fame. For 2018, we want to open it up to all types of finishing sectors.
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Perhaps it will be Dr. Erwin Gemmer. Maybe Pieter de Lange. My guess is Dr. George E.F. Brewer’s name will be on everyone’s list.

I’m sure you are asking just who Erwin, Pieter and George are, and why you should care. Good questions. I’m also sure all of us who make a living in the surface finishing industry have met someone who thinks he or she invented what it is we do. Not only do these people believe this, they will tell you so at every opportunity. Suffice to say, they may think more highly of themselves than we do, but that is what makes them the life of the party.

Gemmer, de Lange and Brewer were indeed three people who helped invent what we do every day in relation to coating and protecting the surfaces of products made in manufacturing plants.

Since 2014, Products Finishing has conducted a Hall of Fame nomination and balloting process to honor those in the electroplating field. This year, since so many shops employ multiple finishing operations, we want to open it up to all types of finishing sectors, including anyone who has had a hand in developing the technology we use in surface finishing today, as well as those who have made other major contributions to the finishing community.

For the 2018 Hall of Fame class, we will include those in the liquid and powder coating sector, as well as electrocoating, mechanical finishing and any other type of finishing operation commonly used in shops. 

When we started the Hall of Fame in 2014, it was a little tongue in cheek. The NASF was hosting its Sur/Fin conference in Cleveland, across from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I wrote a story that year that basically asked, “If there was a finishing hall of fame, who would be in it?” That first year, I hand-picked the five members we inducted: Luigi Brugnatelli, John Wright, Lubomyr Ramankiw, Colin Fink and Kevie Schwartz. I had no intention of making the Hall of Fame induction a recurring event, but then I started getting emails from readers advising me about other individuals worthy of praise and induction.

The second year, we empaneled a group of industry veterans who voted on a list of nominations made by readers. The 2015 class included William Blum, Henry Brown, Michael Faraday, Richard Hull and Oliver Watts. In 2016, we inducted Jack Berg, Dr. Nathan Feldstein, George Hogaboom, Dr. Joseph Kushner, Dr. Harold Read and Charles Walker based on reader nominations. This past year, Frederick Gumm, John Horner, Dr. Leslie Lancy, John Lindstedt and Milton Stevenson Sr. were elected by the industry panel.

Which brings us back to Gemmer, de Lange and Brewer, all of whom are unknown names to many in the finishing industry but are giants nonetheless.

Dr. Gemmer was a German scientist who refined the fluidized bed process in powder coatings and received a patent for that process in 1953. His use of thermoplastic resins to finish metal surfaces instead of flame spraying was revolutionary and led to the creation of the huge powder coating industry we have today.

Years later, de Lange, a Dutch scientist, started to look into using cleaner industrial coatings instead of existing liquid applications, which caused some environmental issues. De Lange researched using air to apply coatings instead of harmful solvents. He combined solid resins, hardeners and color pigments and invented various electrostatic spray techniques that are the basis for powder coating today.

Some may recognize Dr. Brewer’s name, as it is on the annual award presented by the Electrocoat Association, but Ford Motor Co. research is credited with the original idea for electrodeposition of liquid paint in the 1950s. In 1978, Dr. Brewer was given the Chemical Pioneer Ward from the Journal of the American Institute of Chemicals for his research in electrodeposition of water-dispersed organic coatings.

Perhaps you also know of someone you believe has been instrumental in developing meaningful technology or who has been an absolute stalwart in the finishing industry, be it in plating, liquid and powder coatings, anodizing, or any other type of application process.

We’ll start taking nominations for the 2018 class in November. Please look in our monthly magazine or online at PFonline.com for an application, and nominate someone you feel is truly worthy. In the first part of next year, a blue-ribbon committee will review the nominations and vote on who should be in that year’s class.

It is always a great idea to honor those who came before us, who spent years and lots of money researching better ways to finish. They may have passed away long ago or they may be still walking amongst us, but the Products Finishing Hall of Fame is a way to recognize those who have brought us to where we are today. It is the least we can do to thank them. 


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