Of all the standard driving safety devices we are familiar with such as seat belts, air bags, and antilock brakes, one of the most important but often overlooked is road markings. These bright white or yellow lines help keep drivers safe on the straight and narrow as well as on the curvy and treacherous. Creating these markings requires coating materials that juggle two priorities: drying time and durability. The first is essential for minimizing traffic interruptions and the latter is critical to survive constant sunlight, ultraviolet radiation, temperature fluctuations, road flexing, and physical abuse from vehicles.
The global market for road marking materials grew rapidly from around $5.58 billion in 2022 to around $5.94 billion in 2023, according to a report by Future Labs, but the war between Russia and Ukraine has since dampened economic growth globally. This may negatively impact the market for road marking materials, especially premium systems that require more costly raw materials and production technology.
Traditional paints for lane markings road marking company are usually made from a combination of a polymer resin and a chemical catalyst. These are heated to upward of 200 °C before they can be applied to pavement. They can be sprayed directly on the roadway or extruded as a ribbon. Once applied, they solidify almost immediately and traffic disruptions are minimal. Applied 1 mm thick, they last about three years; applied up to 3 mm, they can last five or more years.
In an effort to improve the safety of roads and reduce the amount of chemicals being used, manufacturers are also using a variety of other technologies in their production processes. For example, Rohm GmbH has recently launched a new binder that allows its cold plastic road marking materials to be more environmentally friendly by nearly eliminating the need for outside heat during the process. This system is called DEGAROUTE proTerra 100 and contains a high percentage of recycled material.
In addition, the use of robotic systems for spraying the paint on roads has dramatically reduced the need for human personnel in hazardous areas. These robots are able to position and distribute the paint without being exposed to live traffic, which has significantly improved both safety and speed of work. Additionally, many of these systems can spray more than one color at a time, reducing the need to change over pumps for each different shade. This can further cut down on work times and make the whole process more efficient. In the future, these types of systems may even be able to paint lines on curved surfaces without the need for manual positioning and spraying by human hands. This could be especially useful for highways and other busy roadways. The lines painted by these robots would be based on the design of the road (position, line type, line length and intervals) that is typically already determined in the pre-marking phase and available as two or three-dimensional digital data. This information is then sent to the robotic unit where the lines are painted automatically.