Extending component performance – the hard way

2 min read

Simon Mercer of Signo-Nanocare looks at how nano-coatings can extend product performance and help us in our efforts to be more sustainable.

Our world is becoming increasingly environmentally-conscious. We are encouraged to extend the working life of products by repairing and reusing them where possible. In many cases, we should consider replacing a product only when it is no longer economical to repair it.

Nano-coatings have been around for the last 40 years, used in many different industries where there is a need for easy cleaning and dirt repellence. Within the silicon-dioxide-based coatings, there has been a further subcategorization into nano-ceramics; through the addition of nano-ceramic particles, these coatings can offer extreme levels of hardness up to 9H. Once bonded to a substrate, they offer multiple industries a range of benefits for extending the functional life of machinery components and can play a useful role as an alternative to traditional mould release agent technology.

What appears to be a smooth surface to the naked eye in fact contains microscopic peaks and troughs, which can be smoothed out by the nano-ceramic ingredients to leave an ultra-smooth, liquid, glass-like finish. The benefit of this surface transformation is that dirt, oil and grease build-ups are easily removed as the coating prevents them binding to the substrate’s rough surfaces. With the surface smoothed out, the coating improves aesthetics, provides appearance retention and protects from:

  • Friction
  • Porosity
  • Wear and tear
  • Corrosion

All moving parts create a certain level of friction, which causes wear. As surfaces become rougher, the level of friction becomes greater, therefore increasing energy consumption and reducing efficiency. By maintaining as smooth a surface as possible for as long as possible, friction is kept to a minimum and installed energy efficiency is maintained for a longer period.

According to Signo-Nanocare, the dense ceramic quartz structure protects substrates as it forms a protective surface barrier, preventing the ingress of dirt and contamination that can impregnate the substrate and lead to further deterioration of the surface, thus shortening its life.

Wear and tear is inevitable in any process. It tracks the level of use and cannot be completely avoided, but its negative effects can be delayed by protecting moving surfaces with nano-ceramics. The 9H hardness and abrasion resistance means that the coatings can resist 20,000 cycles pursuant to ISO 11998 wet scrub test.

Corrosion and calcification of industrial plant and equipment are challenges that many manufacturing plants contend with. Downtime caused by part failure or unscheduled maintenance can have significant impacts on production.

Nano-ceramic coatings provide a wide range of benefits for many different production and manufacturing settings. Food production sites can benefit from improved ease of cleaning, especially of production lines and holding tanks. Easy cleaning translates into the environmental and production benefits. One such example is being able to reduce the amount of water and harsh cleaning chemicals needed to perform clean-downs, either between production runs or as part of the daily routine, increasing available production time.

SiO2 based nano-ceramics create hydrophobic surfaces, providing repellence in the form of beaded droplets. This non-stick performance will also prevent the adherence of other substances that have a static charge such as dust and dirt. Therefore, on angled surfaces, such as car paintwork, water will bead off, gathering dust and dirt particles as it descends from the surface.

On an untreated surface, liquids are not repelled and do not bead. The liquid molecules spread across the surface, allowing them time to penetrate the substrate’s structure via the microscopic irregularities in the surface. This provides the perfect environment for surface rust and corrosion to get a foothold. In environments that are damp or constantly wet, nano-ceramics can disperse biofilms, preventing the build-up of bacteria and reducing infection issues for those working in the area.

It is worth spending the time to understand how nano-ceramics can benefit individual processes and the different levels of performance enhancement that can be achieved. Depending on the application, differing strengths of coating can be specified to ensure optimum performance and cost-effectiveness.