The future of polymer coatings is to service multiple needs and functions. Not simply to protect and beautify, these coatings will offer additional desirable performance characteristics and benefits. Today’s polymeric coatings, formulated by forward-looking scientists, inspired by scientific discovery, can have multi-functional capabilities. They can serve to provide more than simply aesthetic and protective necessities.
Chemistry is making breakthroughs on the understanding of what happens at the micro-surfaces of the coating. And scientists are figuring out how to incorporate these advances into high-performance coatings. Nano, micro and macro materials offer unique possibilities, and better understanding of the science, structure, composition and creation of particles is creating new opportunities.
Biology is giving better insight into what’s happening on natural surfaces, and scientists are working to produce so-called bio-mimicking functionality. If a bug can change color, can an automotive coating do the same? If a leaf easily sheds water, can your office windows do the same?
A quick Internet search will turn up a number of popular functional categories, including:
Self-repairing coatings, which migrate surface particles to patch damage or blemishes, keeping your product protected for longer. Cell phone makers, car manufacturers and others now use this technology to protect the underlying surfaces from coatings film defects and substrate corrosion.
Super-slick coatings, to simplify material transfer, or shed unwanted materials. Super-slick coatings are used on bulk cargo vehicles and truck beds that carry dry or liquid materials. The coating helps transfer the materials smoothly and easily from the vehicle to the destination.
Antimicrobial coatings to destroy harmful bacteria on health-sensitive surfaces. Coatings with antimicrobial properties inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, and other microorganisms on the surface. The technology has been used in a variety of applications from coating door knobs and railings, to medical devices and HVAC ductwork.
Water-repellant coatings, to prevent moisture from accumulating on a surface, or direct water flow away from the coated object or structure.
Stain, chemical and contaminant repellant coatings, such as used for anti-graffiti, chemical resistance, and dust repellency. This characteristic creates a surface that resists impairing and cleans easily.
Soft-feel coatings, which offer a unique surface texture, for tactile advantage, particularly on handheld devices or in skin-contact applications.
Science and technology advances offer the coatings user new options and characteristics to add to their product. Coatings users can transform their expectations to that of a truly multifunctional coating.