by Rebekah Fuller, IQS Editor
When I think of coating services my mind wanders back to repainting the walls of a bedroom in my grandma’s house before I moved in to stay with her for a while. Thankfully, I had a lot of help in transforming the room, from cleaning the walls to applying the primer to finishing the final coat. However, coating services refer to much more then getting your friends and family in on your painting projects, or hiring the local small business. Industrial coatings are a varied spectrum of protective and enhancing materials that coat a vast range of substrates, or the surfaces to which they are applied. For example, my bedroom walls would be considered the substrate in my story. The two main reasons to utilize coatings are to protect the substrate from environmental conditions, corrosion and wear, and to give the substrate any desired characteristics that the coating may have and the substrate lacks. The purpose of my painting job was to totally change the look of the room. Besides aesthetics, desirable characteristics of a coating include magnetic, electrical and anti-reflection properties, resistance to water, UV waves and chemicals, and added strength and durability.
Let’s take a look at some uses for industrial and specialty coating services, as they play a big part in manufacturing many of today’s finished products. Metal coating is used widely to protect many parts and machinery from corrosion. Automotive coatings give protection to power transmission parts such as bearings, beltings, gaskets, pumps and valves. Medical device coatings make up another huge market that includes antimicrobial-coated catheters, guide wires and stents, orthopedic implants, surgical blades, dental instruments and other healthcare tools in need of precision coatings that are biocompatible, lubricious and abrasion resistant. Specialized biomaterial coatings have been developed to solve the problems with infection and trauma caused by medical implants, and medical instruments are made of stainless steel for desirable mechanical and hygienic properties and coated with medical grade Teflon PTFE to make for smooth, abrasion resistant operation.
Teflon coatings are also utilized in the food and beverage industries where their non-stick properties are highly advantageous, and aren’t we all thankful for those non-stick cooking pans that make our lives just that much easier? Also, think about the importance of conformal coatings as they protect the circuitry in your electronics from dust and moisture. While we sit back and relax in front of the TV or recline and listen to some music after washing the dishes, we don’t think about the coatings that made for less scrubbing or that play a role in the performance of our flat screens and stereo systems. Coatings are at work all around us and are able to be applied in any state–liquid, gas or solid. They are utilized in a vast range of plastic, wood, glass, cement, and metal finishing and surface treatment processes that we can only glimpse at here.
For example, Teflon can be applied as either a liquid or powder coating, combining low coefficient of friction, heat resistance, almost total chemical inertness, cryogenic stability and unique electrical properties. Ceramic coatings offer the advantage of being ultra-hard protective coatings that are insulative and extremely heat and corrosion resistant. Ceramic microspheres are incorporated into innovative energy saving insulating paints. Offering a different kind of protection are flexible rubber coatings and foam coatings for an abrasion and impact resistant layer; they also work great as sealants and to protect against weather, moisture and chemicals. More specialized, epoxy coatings are highly adhesive thermosetting polymers. Maybe the most specialized of all, plasma coating involves an extremely hot thermal spray (that exceeds the melting point of any known element). Plasma coating feedstock materials include powdered carbide, ceramic, aluminum oxides and stainless steel, which are characteristically tough. When any of these materials are injected into the hot plasma gas plume, they are melted and propelled toward the substrate in this highly versatile process creating exceptionally hard surface coatings. The coating methods used to apply all the various coating substances mentioned in this article include brush coating, spray application coating, dip coating, curing and various robotic processes.