Kem-Tone Wall Finish

The Kem-Tone Team
Inventor James V. Hunn
Inventor Nathan E. Van Stone
The key players in the development and introduction of Kem-Tone paint were Nathan E. Van Stone, James V. Hunn, and Donald A. Kohr, Jr., a team of Sherwin-Williams chemists who shared a commitment to finding a new type of paint. Under the leadership of Van Stone, each member of the team successfully built upon each other's individual research in resins and emulsification.

The research into new coating concepts that led to Kem-Tone paint began as early as 1930, when Sherwin-Williams established a central research laboratory in Chicago known as Allied Research. In 1933, it established an additional research department called Resin Research. It was there that James Hunn began to investigate innovative binders for paints such as new alkyds (synthetic polymers formed from complex alcohols and acids) and phenolics (synthetic polymers made from aromatic organic compounds containing OH groups). Hunn's chemical innovations included a development of the linseed oil-limed rosin varnish that was eventually used in Kem-Tone paint. This represented an important transition from simple waterborne protein paints, to oil-in-water modified protein paints.

Mr. Kohr on the production line.In 1938, Van Stone was promoted from Sherwin-Williams' operations in Chicago to Vice-President and Director of Paint Manufacturing in Cleveland. This move was the beginning of the specific research and development that led to Kem-Tone paint, for Van Stone had the foresight to realize that Hunn's resin research and further emulsification research could lead to significant breakthroughs in water-based coatings.

Van Stone brought with him 20 years of experience in the Dry Color and Chemical Products Departments, where pigments prepared in a water system were "flushed" (mixed with emulsifiers and oil-type binders), creating non-water, liquid, color concentrates. These were formulated into both solvent-borne coatings and into the textile industry's waterborne printing colors used for patterns on cotton fabric. This technology extended logically into both Kem-Tone paint and the camouflage paints that were used in large volume in the latter years of World War II.

Dr. Van Stone accepts the two millionth can of Kem-Tone.It was this vision and understanding of chemical research that led Van Stone to appoint Donald Kohr as section supervisor of emulsion and waterborne paint research for the company. Van Stone served as the crucial link between Hunn's resin and polymer research and Kohr's application of this research to produce emulsion paints.

While directing waterborne paint research, Kohr employed Hunn's formulations of linseed oil/rosin varnish. Kohr also applied Hunn's work with refined polymerized tall oil to reinforce casein and corn protein as binders. The result was the introduction of Kem-Tone paint and eventually the evolution of more durable waterborne paints.




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