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All these "Eco-friendly", waterbased formula paints and solvents have been around on the industrial side for about 10 years, at least. It's the result of all the OSHA and Clean Air laws and regulations aimed at reducing VOC's and occupational over exposure.


15 years ago we used methyl-ethyl-ketone (MEK) or aliphatic naphtha (depending on the paint formula) as "do-alls", surface prep, gun cleaning, overspray clean-up and even though it was frowned on, thinning paints. Now they are not even available (in industrial quantities) unless you have a certified closed booth with a waterfall air scrubber.


Paint manufactures have had to adpt to the new regs or be pushed out of the market. That takes R&D, and that means spending money, lots of it. The industrial market is only so big so expanding in to the consumer market is a logical step for those companies if they want to recoup their investment.

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I used to buy the metal quart cans of MEK for paint thinner and cleaner, because i could just use one chemical for basically everything. It cleaned off everything and evaporated really fast, so i liked it. i learned the habit as an industrial painter. On the down side, I noticed that I would get involuntary muscle twitches during a job where I had to prep large surfaces with MEK, almost always in my eyelid or pinkie, and it would last for days, or a week after the contract was finished. Evil shit.

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  • 2 weeks later...


some old Australian cans

solar stream ( hua Gaofangs era I would imagine)


British paints was the one. (colour spray can) they sold some of this in a close out sale in 2001 and I bought as many as I could carry of a colour called hot canary.

Was rubbish but 12 years later my last piece with it is still surviving on the bare brick it was painted on. MItsed some red devil yellow over the top which might have helped.


fucking pin nozzles sucked

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  • 4 weeks later...

idk if this is the right place to ask but..


I racked 8 montana gold cans, my question is does this paint last on trains? I'm assuming it doesn't. I've only used rusto my whole life, so regardless I'm stoked to come up on some different paint.


Is Belton the next best brand to use on trains besides rusto?

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I think that's a really good question..


We need to find out what paints last on trains.. Yes Rusto does.. but what about the graff paints.


In regards to montana gold.. I don't know.

I can say that I used some belton molotow for a outline like 6 years ago, and this year that train got benched, and it's still holding up!!


I want to know about FLAME BLUE.. I love how that paint flows. It could be the best if it can hold up.


These brands are too new to know or predict. Sometime i feel they are aimed for the canvas painter, and wall productions more than anything.. but they could be sooooo good for metal if they last.

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Personally, I wouldn't trust the chinese brands. On walls here in Denver, they fade very quickly and its very easy to wipe off with a little acetone. That makes me nervous about longevity. I understand the Flame Blue is made in the EU, so it may be ok.


I've also seen panels I've outlined with MTN Hardcore look pretty shabby when benched a couple years later. They may have reformulated it, but the old stuff from 2000-2005 wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be.


Sabotaz, at least the old formula, has serious issues with metal surfaces. It flakes off in sheets over the course of a month. I can't speak for the new "sigma" style cans, but the creeper shadow guy cans are no good on metal of any kind.


I'm sure I must have painted a train with Gold, but nothing comes to mind. That stuff is too expensive, and I've never found a good source for discounted prices. Given how well it holds up on everything else, it can't be a bad bet. The pigments are very stable and it really is a high quality paint.


Molotow on the other hand, is very good on trains. I believe they originally formulated it based on a car paint. I've also painted a school bus for a commission with MTN 94, and it looks great after 2-3 years. I see it around town every so often.

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I've always thought that Molotow was the best for steel, even the old Belton Premium and True Colorz held up super well on steel. I've seen stuff years later that has kept it's color beautifully. German Montanas do seem to hold up well also. I've had mixed results with Spanish MTN Hardcore, some of them fade into beiges/earth tones, while other colors hold perfectly. Rusto has certain colors that do this as well, so it isn't immune to fading issues either.


Regarding Sabotaz and the new Flame Blue...the company behind Sabotaz makes Flame Blue for Molotow, apparently it's a mutually beneficial partnership. It is a completely reworked formula so I think it will hold up better, apparently the smell is more tolerable as well. I've yet to try it, I'm priced out of a lot of these paints these days.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hello old friends,

just stopping by, i will say, we dropped Sigma because the metal peeling continued despite it being something they were trying to address with that batch. if what BMC says is true and the manufacturer of Sabotaz (i won't name them, out of respect, i of course am well aware) makes Flame Blue, it will most likely have the exact same problem happening.

that being said, sabotaz was for sure made in Greece, all sigma/sabotaz etc products were, if you know the company that is the parent, you can visit their website, and see Sabotaz listed there. Flame Blue advertises as being EU made, if made in Greece, i wouldn't bet on not peeling on metal. if made in Germany, perhaps it's better.


"completely reworked formula".... beware of lines like this. because it's made in a new factory vs the chinese factory it was made in before, it is "a completely new formula". but if they're not laying out line for line HOW it's changed and how much more it cost them, and the cost is not higher, don't bet on it. this is coming from someone who manufactures sprays using an OEM factory and who smh's at brands (especially those made in china) making unproven claims about their "improvements". any improvements we put forward, will be tested and will cause a cost increase beforehand. any that don't, be wary of.


hope you're all doing great. working a dayjob to not have to bleed OAL as i continue having more children (on #3 now, trying to insure hardcore graffiti writers in the future) and probably won't be able to check back here, just chiming in with my proverbial $0.02.


take care everyone

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Thank you Oinkart for giving us that feedback. Flame Blue only says it's made in the EU on the cans.

God I hope you are wrong about it as I think of the 50 plus cans I have.. guess I'll just save them for walls if i ever get the chance to paint any this year.


I guess I'll just have to stick to Belton and Molotow.



Now my next question is, and has probably already been covered..

But for thoughs who order paint.. Where do you prefer to get yours?


I have only ordered from ArtPrimo, and everytime I see what Oinkart has to offer I have been very impressed with the honesty, and prices they have to offer. They even beat store brand prices.


But I'm looking for some places that offer free shipping up to a certain amount or places that already have great prices.


smh.. Flame Blue.

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It says it's for indoor use only. Does Mode have the old valve or something to make it interesting to writers? The color list is really limited, too. Granted, if I saw it at Home Depot for $1.99, you can bet I'd give it a shot. America's Finest was fantastic and I really miss it.


Looking more closely, this looks like a UK-specific site.

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I picked up a can of Sugar while I was in LA. The smell is really good, and covers great, even on raw canvas. The new(ish) Hardcore "Nitro" black is absolute shit, though. It won't cover over anything other than Montana Gold in my experience. A tallboy can was something like 4 or 5 dollars so I guess that explains it, but it has serious issues.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anybody here heard anything substantial about the new MTN Original line? looks promising in regards to price, but I hope that they didn't skimp on quality in order to achieve that. Since it's usa release only, it would be pretty cool if MTN became the first artist paint company to actually manufacture it here in the states, which in theory would cut down on import/shipping costs from europe. but maybe safety and other regulations would bring the price back up? I'm really surprised that this hasn't happened yet. seems like there are enough writers here in the states that would support it. but again i know nothing about the manufacturing end and all the hurdles involved with aerosol production.


The MTN Hardcore 2 has been working great in terms of coverage and speed, but doing anything finely detailed is really difficult. I think the valve has only one pressure, high or nothing. not like the 94 line where you can control the flow. but the color selection is really nice and vibrant and you can fill so fast its ridiculous. so idk, it's a tradeoff i guess, and it plays to it's strengths well. It is also the only brand that i've had multiple cans leak from the valve while painting with a pink dot. which sucks.


I've used a fair amount of Beat paint in the last few years, but i've been told they went out of business. too bad because the valve was really nice and the paint had good opaque colors. Seems like ArtPrimo is the only place left to get some and they've raised the price to $7. Hopefully i'll get some paid jobs and stock up a little bit. I feel like it will be one of those paints that in 10 years people will be nostalgic about and will have in their collections. it's a good paint, and i've never had a can malfunction.


anyway, this thread has been a really interesting read lately. There's really not that much info about the finer details of spray paint out there, other than some press releases, so it's cool to read it and peoples opinions here. I figured I'd add my 50 cents. peace

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@AHOLE, for sure. happy to help. Honestly i will say, Sabotaz paint was bad ass. don’t use on walls that have been painted a ton of times and don’t use on metal if you need it to last (peeling, not fading, being the issue.) it was great paint, and i am by no means trying to speak ill about it.


@BIGMETALCIRCUS, Rustoleum Mode: honestly looks bad ass. Good for them.


and with this, i’ll disappear into the ether :D ya’ll keep rocking ;D

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Hua Guofang

What is it you were struggling with in terms of consistency? I’m a little surprised but I’d be interested to know to be honest. We have guys like Tues, Jurne and Gary testing every single batch of paint before they are released and Tues is at our factory every other month as well. In the past few years we really went to work on our QC procedures, these days if something doesn’t measure up to our standards, we won’t release it for sale. It’s just not worth having unhappy customers. We’ll hold it in our warehouse and eventually send it back to China to be recycled.


You said “Based on my experience in China and with manufacturing there's a good chance that the companies don't release the factory ID because Chinese factories are notorious for selling out for quick and easy profit. In other words if you found out where AVT was doing their production you could go to them and have them run an extra 20k cans on the end of an AVT run, using the same pigment tech and ratios as well as valves, etc. and then flog them off at a cheaper price undercutting AVT's market. You sell yours as Ebay cheapos without anything invested in the brand and you free ride off AVT's R&D as well as their brand, depending on how you sell your kit.”


That is a common problem with OEM manufacturing in China. All these other brands are using a similar formulation to an older version of Ironlak, though with lower coverage and still containing toluene etc. This is because one of our former shareholders was doing dodgy side deals in a small factory. So even with your own factory you can experience problems. We gave the previous shareholder the flick and tightened things up to protect our intellectual property better. If we didn't tighten things up on our end there would be all these Sugar and marker copies out there as well. We’re at the point where we will even produce our nozzles in house just so competitors can’t copy or don’t have as easy a path to copying us.


You asked about constraints of water on the finish; we made Sugar matt(e) because Ironlak is gloss. We’re trying to offer products that cater to different tastes.



You mentioned a valve issue with Chinese made paint. It’s something we experienced a few years ago in a batch of Roarke but I don’t believe we’ve experienced it in about 3 years. It’s actually not a valve problem but rather a formulation problem. I don’t really want to say what it is as I’d rather our competitors work it out for themselves, but I thought you’d like to know.


You mentioned the quality varying every few months, in all honesty we’ve been very consistent the past 2-3 years in our production. Regarding colour match; we match our colours under 3 forms of light in a light box. The only reason a colour wouldn’t match now would be if we happened to slightly change the colour of a specific colour to better compliment the overall colour palette.


You mentioned coverage, in terms of coverage and we’ve done the tests and are happy for others to test themselves but this speaks for itself to be honest:



FYI Zenith is actually made in China as well.


If you can actually demonstrate to me how a German brand is superior to Ironlak, I’ll give you 96 cans for helping us improve our products. It has to be a legit claim (if you can substantiate it, you can take Ironlak, Sugar, Yard Master, whatever you want). We’re always happy to listen and learn, I’ve seen German paints change colour, exhibit massive amounts of overspray and have cans block, as well as gunk at the start. It’s all relative, that’s not to say they don’t make great products, they do, (credit where its due) we just believe our products are better. Most products have short comings, and that’s consumer products in general.


You mentioned paint wiping off with acetone, this will happen with just about any paint. If you find one of the key solvents and it will logically break down the paint film. You could do this with just about any paint around the world, aerosol or otherwise.


As for the fading, other Chinese paints may fade, Ironlak doesn’t anymore. We’ll be posting evidence of this shortly. It’s been a three year testing process for us to find the right pigments and it’s also why Ironlak is more expensive than other Chinese made imitators. We have evidence that about 75% of our range lasts for at least 5 years. The remaining 25% is what we've spent the last three years working on. It took about a year of testing to find the right pigments and two years of testing to confirm the UV stability in those pigments etc. These new pigments have been in our paint for at least six months now. We wanted to do further testing before making any claims that we couldn’t substantiate.



You are right about these types of things being around for industrial use previously. We adapted the base of Sugar from an industrial product that we started producing about five years ago, but that adaptation isn’t easy and took a long time. Graffiti writers have the broadest demands in terms of a product’s capabilities and performance. Industrial products usually have to focus on 1-2 points and others are less relevant, because of this it’s no easy feat.


Hope that's clarified some of the comments and queries you've had over the past 6 months.



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Hey Ironlak,


It's been a good while since I bought Lak - for no other reason than I bought a big batch of paint a while back and have had little spare time to get through it over the last 12-18 months. Things may have changed in that time but the consistency that I was talking about was within a can and between cans. With some colours you can have different shades within the one can, even after you've shaken the shit out of it before and during use. I've also bought a few cans of the same colour (same time, same retailer) and they have been visibly different in terms of shade when landing on the wall. I've also had a few colours that clog nozzles at a rate that made them prohibitive of use. These issues may well have been cleared up by this time, I have no idea.


In regards to operating out of China, I assume you are in Guangdong. Having your production location close to other potential production plants increases your risk. With alternate producers down the road the temptation and ease in doing the dodgy is so much higher. You may own the factory but you still have to utilise local labour, local management, logistics and worst of all local partners to assist in navigating the local "landscape" (I'm going to guess that was your recent shareholder problem). It's a really difficult environment to operate in and with the reforms under Xi and Li it's not going to get easier or cheaper.


I genuinely believe its worth watching for alternate bases of production such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, etc. The average wage will be lower than China, there will be incentives for manufacturers that will offset the costs of shifting production, inducements to construct in new SEZs, etc. The initial drawbacks will be that these locations won't match China for technical capabilities, management practices, efficient logistics, etc. for a few years yet. That's why I'd be starting to think about it now and identifying a few potential locations to watch for a while so that in when in 5 years time China becomes less desirable as a production base you'll be in a better position to transition elsewhere and take advantage of the cheaper operating environment. Unfortunately your IP security situation is unlikely to improve no matter where you go unless you start operating here, the US, Germany, etc.

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Hey Hua,


If you have a list of colours and batch no's can you email them through to ironlak@avtpaints.com we keep records of all batches, not just our QC documents but customer feedback to see if there is any consistency so if you can let us know the colours, batch no and issue we'd be happy to look into it.


Regarding manufacturing we're not based in Guangdong, we're based in a inland province, that remoteness gives us protection and security from IP issue's. Our head chemist is a very honest and trustworthy guy, I've know him for 8 years now and he has a lot of integrity, all of his technical team that have any significant understanding are family members of his. This way anyone who isn't technically inclined has limited access to our IP, and when raw materials come in they are all just coded, there is no way for anyone to know what is what really they just know to mix X amount of A & B together. its how it has to be and we haven't had any IP leakage in the past 3 years since all the other brands started popping up, its like having a life partner you have to trust someone, but its important to know whom you can trust.


As for the previous business partner we always knew it was a risk and would probably happen eventually, but sometimes those are risks you have to weigh up in life. We're in a very good position now and feel our IP and plans are well protected, it takes more planning and consideration but when you consider the girth of China's manufacturing many companies still have a lot of success protecting their IP there. Its actually surprising how active the government is on the ground in ensuring IP is protected, they have a long way to go but from what I see on the ground its more than lip service, eradicating something this well entrenched however will take a long time so its better you take steps to protect yourself from exposure.


Its interesting you raise other markets for production, and you are right there are other emerging markets that in future will be more attractive but have present drawbacks as you noted, we actually looked at one of the countries you mentioned before we moved to China several years ago. The thing is you also need to consider what you are manufacturing, some of those markets have other limitations such as land size, geography and population so while they will be appealing to some companies like say the High Tech industry, they're going to be less appealing for a paint company like us. If we were producing microprocessors or something else that was tech related we would have been in Vietnam 3 years ago but looking at what we do there is only so much benefit to moving.


Labour only makes up a small portion of our products costs, when you think about fluctuations in currencies, oil, steel prices and that our pigments come from all over the world there are just too many factors beyond labour and its something I think people don't really consider. Raw material costs are high and its a consumable not designer handbags so margins are lower and competition is fierce. I'm actually really surprised when you think about it spray paint prices haven't moved really in 10 years in the Graffiti market where as you look at spray paint in Bunnings or Home Depot they have steadily climbed along with the price of a can of coke.


I agree Chinese labour won't get any cheaper as they look to broaden their middle class (a good thing for stabilising their economy - as the west should take note with our shrinking middle classes) our cost risk here isn't too high as I explained because labour factors into a small percent of production, we're more at risk of other costs fluctuating like gas prices etc.


I can't speak for the European brands but I would think that raw material costs make up a similar percentage of their product costs, so while their labour costs may be higher (I would imagine as is their efficiency) its not going to make their products overly more expensive than ours. The real advantage of China for us is that its centrally located globally, and we're away from the prying eyes of competitors (even those within China)



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