This company, Blackline Fence Products, had many successes and some problems. One of those problems was fading, or excessive chalking. After several reformulations, over a period of several years, the company managed to solve many of the color change issues, but by that time, there were many installations around the country that did not perform up to expectations with regard to color retention.
Another problem of these early formulations was sagging and/or distortion in hot temperatures. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PE (polyethylene), both of which have been tried in dark colors for fencing, are not well suited to this application. For example, PVC’s heat distortion temperature is below 160 degree F. PE is lower. On a black surface in direct sun, 180 degree is common. As such, PVC and PE based products do not have a very good chance of performing well in most environments without distortion and sagging problems.
Eventually the Korean partners decided to put their efforts into other investments, and the company was slowly phased out of business starting about eight to nine years ago.
Also, about nine years ago, a couple of other fencing companies (Exact Products, Inc and Pacific Vinyl Products, LLC) started developing a black fence product for needs in the Hawaii market. This group used a significantly different approach to formulating and creating a black fencing material. First, they determined that neither PVC, which was used by the original company, nor PE, were the correct resins to be utilized in creating a dark colored vinyl or plastic fencing. As mentioned above, both PVC and PE have low heat distortion temperatures. In evaluating other resin systems, CPVC was finally chosen as the best choice, since its heat distortion temperature is over 200 degrees F, which is well over the maximum temperature that will be reached on a black surface. This choice makes the product easier to work with in the field, and allows it to perform better after installation.
The second area of formulation, which needed a new approach, was pigmentation. Carbon black is the main pigment for black, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of carbon black pigments available around the world. In reviewing the weathering studies from some of the best pigment houses, we selected a high quality, exterior carbon black that had performed very well in weathering studies. Then, we added another 40% over the recommended levels. And then, we added another UV inhibitor as an insurance policy.
And last, but very important, was the evaluation of the auxiliary materials in the formulation. As with any plastic formulation, several additional materials need to be added to impart desirable physical properties, such as strength, rigidity, impact resistance, etc. With a dark color, it is very important to select materials, which do not chalk upon weathering. If the material chalks, materials in the formula migrate to the surface and accumulate, which tends to make a black product look gray. It looks like the color has faded, but actually there is a light, dusty chalk on the surface, which can usually be wiped off, but the effect on a dark color is not desirable.
About the same time that BLACKline™hhp was planning on initiating production, we heard that the Omaha Blackline company was going to phase out of business. After discussions with them, we offered to buy some of their soft assets, such as customer lists, web site, images, brand name, etc. We were not interested in their hard assets, such as tooling, formulations, existing inventories, etc. for obvious reasons. As such, in 2006, we started production in our plant, and shortly thereafter, purchased the soft assets mentioned previously. Since then, we have been steadily growing the business, and the product has performed very well in both the field and the weathering studies. The only visual change we are seeing is a slight reduction in sheen over time. The product tends to get a little flatter as it weathers.
If you review a copy of our standard warranty, you will note that we guarantee the product against abnormal weathering and abnormal discoloration. This generalization, of course, covers excessive fading and chalking. You will also notice that the warranty covers abnormal distortion, which includes any excessive sagging, warping or twisting. Using this improved formulation since 2006 has resulted in any no color change or distortion problems