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Coatings? What are they…. Really?

11 December 2021

Coatings? What are they…. Really?


If you are a user or car cleaning products, you  would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard about new technologies when it comes to last stage protection (LSP). For a long time, we used Wax based products to finish the detailing process and no bag of valeting products would have been complete without a paste or liquid wax to add shine, give water repellency and give some degree of protection to the vehicle paint. In time, the detailers collection of car cleaning supplies would have extended to Sealants. Where waxes were, traditionally, naturally derived and were relatively limited in what could be achieved, sealants leveraged synthetic and highly customisable characteristics to vastly enhance what car cleaning manufacturers could achieve with an LSP product.


What next? Coatings.


Coating application


After sealants, manufacturers of car wash and detailing supplies wanted something new. What we got was coatings. Where sealants could give months of durability, coatings could give years! Car wash and detailing supplies would never be the same again. But is all as it seems? These products claim to be the best thing since sliced bread but a long time viewer of the market will note that, every few years, there is a new revolution. We have had Nano. Glass. Silica. Ceramic. Graphene. The suspicious thing is that the same claims are made with each supposed revolution. The car cleaning chemical manufacturer will claim that the new product is better. But when did you last see any measure of proof?

No. I can’t think of the last time either!


So why are coatings not getting better?

If I were to tell you this, I would be lying. It is not that they are not getting better, it is that they are evolving slowly. What is also interesting is that sealants are also evolving. In reality, a top end sealant can probably offer 90% of the performance of a good coating. Some sealants will actually outperform products which claim to be coatings!

All of this, we find contrary to good scientific practice. It seems that there is little scientific evidence when it comes to coatings. We know that it is there but nobody is talking about it. So maybe it is time.


PIP Chemicals Coatings

We have made crossover products (very high end sealants), for years. So we know what to expect. We have also a very minimal number of coatings, largely because we have also been unable to penetrate the shield of marketing, surrounding most coatings. Yet, as above, we know our sealants will outperform some coatings. We are routinely hindered by suppliers who feel they are able to ignore the law and put the safety of users at risk by providing little or none of the (legally required) chemical information, largely due to a belief that this will compromise their intellectual property. So we decided to make a dedicated venture into coatings.


Academic collaboration and expert Staff.

To achieve our goal of manufacturing properly characterised coatings, we engaged with an expert academic establishment. Having identified a synergy, we achieved support from local enterprise authorities and embarked upon an 18 month project to truly get our teeth into the topic. To do so, we have the skills of Dr Ashleigh Moore, an experienced chemical researcher with years spent working on novel coatings with some of the best minds in the country.


How are we progressing?

We have made a firm start, with several base line formulations now identified and initial testing carried out. Whilst some out there may trivialise, this is a complex task. Even identifying the test methodologies is an exercise and the early validation of these has proved enlightening indeed. We have succeeded in making a 9H coating – no problem. We have water repellency higher than industry standard coatings (as measured by contact and sliding angles). But we can already see strange inconsistencies – claimed hardnesses which we cannot reproduce. Bizarrely high sliding angles (so the water does not run off, even though it will bead). We need to look deeply into how these products resist washing with standard products like a snowfoam, prewash or TFR. No one really talks about these things, but we will!

What is next?

We are at an early stage. Expect to see lots more data. We can give graphs and multiple results for our formulations versus industry standards (don’t worry, we will not name names!). Ultimately, we will continue until we can provide a set of products that don’t just sound good and have great claims, but products which we can PROVE to do what they say!

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