Furthermore, the less costly options tend to ghost (erase incompletely), often require thorough cleaning with liquid cleaners, and wear more easily, leading to premature replacement.
Now advanced coatings applied to steel coil substrate are enabling office product manufacturers to think outside the box by allowing cutting, bending and forming of a dry erase surface not only as doors, wall panels, and cubicle partitions, but also as curved surfaces and even 3D shapes.
In addition to cutting down the weight, the dry erase coating also reduces ghosting, and even allows for sublimation printing of logos and branding. This could include photo quality images or other graphics for industry or customer specific purposes.
Post Formable Dry Erase Coatings
While traditional dry erase materials are readily used in standard whiteboard shapes and sizes, they are not compatible with more complex forms. As such, they tend to corral office product manufacturers into rectangular “inside the box” thinking.
“Porcelain and glass covered dry erase surfaces cannot be formed, which limits their potential use in a wider array of office products,” said Dan Chin, president of Universal Chemicals & Coatings (Unichem), a custom adhesives and coating formulator, “Their weight also poses limits in the size, application, and mounting of the dry erase boards.”
A new approach of a specially formulated coating to aluminum and steel coil substrate is promising to dramatically expand the possibilities of how a dry erase surface can be used and incorporated into office products.
Coil coating, a high speed efficient coating process, involves the use of aluminum, cold rolled steel or hot dipped galvanized steel which can be efficiently coated, re-coiled, and then shipped for later fabrication and forming into parts or products.
Unlike porcelain and glass, a coil coated substrate with a special dry erase coating can be precision slit, stamped, sheared, roll formed, and incorporated into virtually any size or shape that coated coiled metal can be configured.
Manufacturers like Unichem, for instance, have developed coatings for coil substrate that can be post formed to accommodate a manufacturer that wants to form whiteboards into wall panels, partitions, or office furniture installations. In fact, their coatings are used on the dry erase panels at one of the world’s leading office furniture manufacturers.
Because of how flexibly the coated coil substrate can be formed, it is also suitable for entirely new applications, including aesthetically curved or 3D surfaces, which manufacturers, architects and interior designers may dream up.
Additionally, dry erase installations utilizing the specialty coating weigh only a fraction of comparable porcelain applications, and similar glass applications. This can simplify any wall or partition mounted installation, as well as make furniture lighter and more easily moved and shipped.
Better Erasability, Less Ghosting
In addition to the increased design options, manufacturers are also solving the omnipresent issue of ghosting and shadowing at a substantially lower cost than either glass or porcelain.
Some coil coated substrates, in fact, have been tested with more than 100 markers from a wide array of manufacturers, even some permanent marker manufacturers. With 10,000+ cycles of erasability, heat and humidity cycling, and cleanability, the finish exceeds the industry's stringent requirements, so even permanent markers clean off with spray cleaners.
“In the erasability tests, the coating has to show little to no wear through all the mark-erase cycles,” Chin said. “It’s also important to build in resistance to moisture because some common dry erase products tend to ghost severely in high humidity climates.”
Photo Quality Graphics
A dry erase board by definition is designed so ink will not stick. As such, typical dry erase materials usually provide only a simple graphics capability by printing.
However, the availability today of photographic quality sublimation inks, along with specialized coatings, makes the printing more impactful, complex images that enhance the brand possible.
“Now you can infuse (sublimate) permanent inks into the coating – such as for photos, logos, patterns, calendars, or industry specific formats or graphics – yet retain dry erase board erasability,” Chin said. “The image in the coating is every bit as good as the actual printed photo, so it enhances visual impact and aesthetics.”
The sublimation process used to achieve this essentially introduces heat to turn solid ink particles directly into a gas which permanently colors the surface and sub-surface of the dry erase board, so the ink will not wash away, according to Chin.
Though the dry erase market has changed relatively little in decades, the recent introduction of unique coatings is now changing the industry and providing office product manufacturers with creative new ways to better serve their customers.