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Monday, 16 December 2019

Multifunctional coatings –a water level report

Thursday, 20 February 2014 | Posted by: Sonja Schulte, European Coatings Journal

It seems to me that functional and multifunctional coatings are on everybody lips since several years. To be honest, I don`t know if this is just a pious hope of the researchers or if these kind of coatings really find their way into the market. While looking for a valid answer I found a lot of research going on and not so many products established in the market.

The term functional coating has been widely used in recent year and is a kind of buzz-word, as were "nano” and "bio” previously. As a result of the popularity of this term a very large number of scientific papers have been publish presenting old and new approaches to functional coatings. In general they describe a huge number of potential applications for functional coatings. Without any doubt additional surface functions can create additional value for industrial products, but what are the most important functions and which are the most desired?

In 2007, the German Society for Surface Treatment carried out a survey to identify the needs of German industry in the area of surface technologies. Over 300 technical experts from about 100 companies, 30 institures, colleages etc. and several industrial associations participated in this survey. Volkmal Stenzel and Nadine Rehfeld, authors of the Book "Functional coatings”  believe that the results also apply to other advanced industrial countries. The survey resulted in over 100 technical topic and ideas of which 3 clusters were formed: knowledge-based quality improvement, efficient process, AND, multifunctional surfaces!

A lot of research is going on in order to develop the following functions: switching surfaces (e.g. switching between hydophobic/hydrophilic behavior, colors, electrical conduction/non-conduction), anti-fouling surfaces (e.g. lotus effect, photocatalytic self-cleaning, non-toxic maritime anti-fouling), self-repairing surfaces, hybrid materials with complex morphology (e.g. anti-reflective glass coatings).

What is in the market available?

Self-cleaning façade coatings with a patented microstructure, so-called Lotus-effect coatings are on the market since several years. According to the manufacturer this paint requires less regular maintenance than standard façade paint, and maintains its looks for longer too. If you doing a google-research you will find a variety of self-cleaning coatings for different applications. If you look for self-repairing or self-healing coatings  is much harder to find products available on the market. The same holds true for anti-icing coatings.

In conclusion, there still a lot of research to do before multifunctional coatings become fully established in the market.

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Sonja Schulte
European Coatings Journal
Sonja Schulte
Editor-in-Chief, Science & Technology
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