For the average consumer, paint and coatings are thought to be merely a decorative adornment over a functional object. They often neglect to realize that the coating itself can have an important function on its own. From scratch-resistant nano technology to so-called "cool" coatings technology that may help reduce a homeowner's energy bills, these specialty coatings do more than just please the eye.
Revved Up Automotive Coatings
Gone are the days when Henry Ford told his customers that they could have their car in any color they wanted "so long as it is black." Today's consumers have a staggering amount of colors and special effects to choose from when selecting a vehicle. These specialty coatings allow companies to differentiate their products in a highly competitive market and offer enhanced performance such as improved scratch resistance.
"Customers look to PPG for technology and concepts more then anything else," said Jane Harrington, manger of color styling, automotive coatings for PPG. "They are looking for ways to differentiate their products and give them brand identity."
Year after year, certain colors and effects continue to be the most sought after in the auto industry. Metal and liquid effect coatings are consistently popular choices for automotive coatings.
The speedshape held by Sean Purdy, research chemist at PPG's Allison Park, PA facility, has a topcoat of a newly-developed colorant based on nanotechnology. The nanoparticles are clear, but diffract light to impart color, depending on the viewer's angle.
Balancing appearance while maintaining high performance physical properties is key when it comes to these specialty automotive coatings. "Some unique coatings like tri-coats or tinted clearcoats/candy colors give added color travel, depth and perceived value," said Harrington. "These types of coatings are limited to an assembly plant's processability."
Another area of particular interest for automotive coatings manufacturers is nanotechnology. "Today we are working on nano size pigment dispersions," said Koenigsmark. "This technology enables PPG to develop even more chromatic colors than we are currently able, especially in the red metallic color area."
"PPG is committed to working closely with automotive color designers to bring new technologies to market," Koenigsmark added. "Coatings and application methods will continue to be explored, especially for specialty niche vehicles, so that these future technologies can be incorporated into larger full scale production.
According to the color designers at BASF Coatings, over the next few years, coatings for automotives will trend toward striking, mixed colors that defy the definition of classic color. Instead of traditional green, blue or gray, new-trend setting colors may be described in terms like petrol-gray, "greige" (a blend of gray and beige) or greenish-blue. These colors will feature surprising special effects.
BASF's Glasurit Automotive Refinish recently expanded its Fantasy Color palette by adding three new shades. The new colors, Sunlight, Asteroid and Nightlife consist of a combination of popular subdued colors such as silver and black as well as the entire color spectrum. These iridescent colors impart a finish that shines with a wide range of shades, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. In addition, the paint systems provide an environmentally friendly solution to global solvent-reduction requirements.
Light-transmitting Glass Coatings
Coatings can do more than just provide visual enjoyment. A new breed of coatings can actually help consumers conserve energy and save money in their home.
PPG Industries has added two new products to its family of Vistacool subtly reflective, color-enriched glasses: Vistacool Caribia glass and Vistacool Solargray glass. These two new products feature color-neutral, second-surface coatings that transmit high levels of daylight while enriching the tinted substrates underneath. As a result, each product in the Vistacool glass collection delivers the energy savings and interior brightness of high visible light transmittance without the mirror-like glare of traditional reflective glasses.
Vistacool Caribia features the enriched color of PPG's aqua-green Caribia tint along with excellent solar control performance. In a standard one-inch insulating glass unit with a clear inboard light, Vistacool Caribia produces Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) of 47%-nearly twice the average of other tinted, reflective-coated glass products on the market-together with a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) of 0.34. The result is a Light to Solar Gain (LSG) ratio of 1.38, which is well above the U.S. Department of Energy's LSG designation of 1.25 or greater for spectrally selective glass.
Cool Coatings For The Home
Tex•Cote Super•Cote Cool Wall coating is an advanced coatings system from Textured Coatings of America, Inc. (TCA) that can help consumers keep their homes cooler and save money on their energy bills.
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) tests conducted for more than a year measured the performance of Tex•Cote Super•Cote Cool Wall and found that not only did the product's heat reflective finish significantly reduce exterior wall temperatures, it also dramatically lowered interior temperatures on cement block, stucco and wood-frame homes, according to Jay Haines, TCA's president and CEO.
"The DOE tests confirmed that the Cool Wall coating reduced exterior wall temperatures by as much as 40˚F when compared to traditional paints and coatings in many colors," said Haines. "What's more important is that the test data showed that the Cool Wall coating would reduce the interior temperatures as well, and could lower the costs of cooling a typical 1,100-square-foot ranch-style home by as much as 21.9% depending on the color chosen, substrate type and climatic conditions."
Cool Wall coatings take advantage of the same heat reflective technology used by the military to reduce the heat signature of planes and other vehicles, Haines explained. "Since the increase in reflectivity occurs primarily in the infrared spectrum, it is invisible to the naked eye. Yet although the Cool Wall colors may look the same as a traditional finish, the DOE tests show that, on average, they are up to 100% more reflective than the conventional technologies."
According to Haines, a dark-colored home absorbs as much as nine percent of the solar radiation that strikes it, and even white walls can absorb solar radiation. "By reflecting this infrared radiation rather than absorbing it, the Cool Wall coatings dramatically reduce the load on a home's air-conditioning system," he said.
Tex•Cote Super•Cote coatings also fight mildew and algae while reducing exterior maintenance. They can be applied to virtually any surface including stucco, wood, masonry and fiber cement surfaces.