No manufactured part is complete without the proper coating. There are a variety of coating options to suit different part materials and their functions. Whether the coating is meant to enhance the part’s appearance or protect delicate materials from corrosion and heat warping, coatings are the finishing touch for parts to ensure their functionality.
There are a variety of different coatings with different purposes. In this blog, we touch on some of the most common types of coatings and why parts need to be coated with the proper substance.
Why Parts Need Coatings
Coatings for your parts shouldn’t be overlooked. While some coatings are only micrometers (μm) thick, they provide vital protection and functionality to parts. One of the most common purposes of a coating is to protect a part from a harsh environment. Many parts are made of metals, meaning a protective coating can prevent corrosion as well as warping from high heat. Coatings can also protect parts from electrical currents.
Coatings are also important for composite parts to add to part integrity and protect from high heat environments. While carbon fiber, a common material for composites, is strong, light, and heat-resistant, the epoxies used to mold carbon fiber into hard parts needs to be protected.
Some coatings can add to the functionality of the part, such as a reflective coating on an optical piece that affects how light bounces off or transmits through the piece. Other coatings are purely for appearance, such as prints and colored coatings.
Different Types of Parts Coatings
There are plenty of different kinds of coatings for manufactured parts. In order to achieve an even and accurate layer, most functional coatings are applied with a form of spray as opposed to a brush. Even coating is important for the protection of the part as well as maintaining its shape. These are some of the common types of coatings.
Paint coatings apply a layer of colored lacquer to parts. This coating can be applied to enhance appearance or brand parts with your company’s color palette. You may also paint specific parts a certain color to help technicians locate and service them. Additionally, parts may be painted to show direction or as a warning, like painting parts red or green to indicate whether they’re safe to touch or if they contain a harmful substance.
This type of coating is applied as a fine, dry powder and cured under heat or ultraviolet light to form a hard coating which is typically stronger than traditional paint. The material can be a thermoplastic or thermoset polymer. Powder coatings are typically used on metal parts, such as those in cars, motorcycles, and even bicycle parts, but it can also be used to coat parts made of plastic, composites, and carbon fiber.
HydroGraphic/Water Transfer Printing
Also known as immersion printing, water marbling, and hydro dipping, this type of coating is used to apply prints to three-dimensional surfaces. The print is created as a thin layer of paint on top of water, and the object is dipped into the paint to apply the print. This type of coating is mostly for aesthetic purposes, and it can be used on metal, plastic, glass, and wooden objects.
Ceramic coatings are a chemical polymer solution that, when cured, protect parts from corrosion as well as add wear and friction resistance. These coatings are non-metallic and inorganic, which helps protect parts from high heat, friction, and chemical exposure.
Directed Vapor Deposition
Directed vapor deposition is a type of electron-beam physical vapor deposition (EBPVD). This method is used by the aerospace industry to coat parts with thermal or chemical barrier coatings to protect against corrosion. It’s also used in optics to achieve specific reflective or transmissive properties for optical components. This process is used to achieve extremely thin coatings that protect the part or alter its reflective properties.
Thermal barrier coatings are meant to protect parts from exposure to high heat that can warp or damage parts. These coatings are usually between 2mm and 100μm thick. Even though they’re exceptionally thin, they insulate parts to allow for higher heat thresholds and limit thermal exposure of structural components. Thermal coatings are used for many kinds of parts, such as engine parts in planes and vehicles where excess heat is generated.
Coating Services from PCMI
At PCMI, we understand the need for the right coating to improve the appearance and longevity of your parts. We offer a variety of coatings for all the parts we manufacture, whether they’re metallic or a carbon fiber composite. We have capabilities with painted coatings and hydrographics as well as direct vapor deposition and Cerakote clear ceramic coatings to protect and enhance part performance.
Learn more about our coating options in the link below.