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Coating materials are applied in a thin film to provide protection or decoration to a

surface. Most films are thin in comparison to the workpiece. In order to achieve
the desired characteristics from the thin film, the coating material fon-nulation
must be carefully considered in relation to the part characteristics, surface
preparation, application technique and curing method. The correct combination of
components and process steps can lead to a film that provides long-lasting beauty
and defense against the elements.

Coatings can be formulated from a wide variety of chemicals and materials or a

combination of different chemicals. Each component in the formulation serves a
specific fiinction. Four common components, shown in Table 2-1, are pigments,
additives, binders and the carrier fluid or solvent.

Table 2-1: Common Components of Coating Materials


Commonly a colorant, used
Pigments Insoluble solids
for aesthetic quality
Adhesive between solids and
Binders Polymers, Resins surface, create the coating
Varies, can include
Additives Varies stabilizers, curing agents,
flow agents
Organic solvent, Liquid portion, means by
Carrier Fluid
water which to apply paint

Pigments are defmed as any insoluble solid in coating materials. Pigments are
typically the colorant portion of a coating material, but can also perform other
functions. Some pigments provide corrosion protection, stability in ultraviolet
(UV) light, or protection from mold, mildew or bacteria. Others can be used for
their conductive ability, texture, or metallic or pearlescent appearance.

Binders primarily function as an adhesive to the substrate. Binders are polymer
resin systems with varying molecular weights. The molecules in the binder
crosslink during the curing stage to improve strength and create the thin film. The
type of binder usually gives the paint formulation its name. Common binders
are ,acrylics, epoxies, polyesters, and urethanes. The viscosity of the paint is often
attributed to the binders contained in the coating formulation. Coating viscosity
must be considered when choosing certain application techniques.
Additives are usually low molecular weight chemicals in coating formulations that
allow coatings to perform specific functions but do not contribute to color. Non-
pigment additives include stabilizers to block attacks of ultraviolet light or heat,
curing additives to speed up the crosslinking reaction, co-solvents to increase
viscosity, or plasticizers to improve uniform coating.

Carrier Fluid
The carrier fluid is typically a liquid such as an organic solvent or water. The
carrier fluid allows the coating material to flow and be applied by methods such as
spraying and dipping. This component may be in the coating formulation before
application, but evaporates afterwards to allow the solid materials to immobilize
and form the thin protective film. Despite its temporary presence in the coating
material, the solvent plays a major role in how well the film will perform. Powder
coatings have no carrier fluid; they consist only of the other three components.

While the solids portion adheres to the workpiece, the solvent component of
coating materials evaporates and causes the most environmental concern. The
solvent materials are mostly volatile organic compounds (VOCS) that contribute to
the creation of ozone (smog) in the lower atmosphere and are toxic to human
health. Some solvents may also be classified as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).
Federal environmental statutes now regulate these VOCs and HAPS. One way
organic finishing facilities have responded to these regulations is by creating
coatings with lower solvent content.

Coating formulations vary widely, with different types and amounts of pigments,
binders, additives, and carrier fluids. The differences in coating formulations
provide film characteristics specifically set for the part and its end-use. Often, one
type of coating cannot be formulated to provide all of the desired properties.
Several layers of different coating material may be applied to a surface to form a
coating fihn that will thoroughly protect the part. The first coat is typically called
the primer, or undercoat, and the final layers are called topcoats. Regardless of
the coating formulation or number of layers applied, proper part
preparation, application techniques, and curing processes are necessary for the
desired coating characteristics to be achieved.

Four common types of coating materials are solvent-based coatings, high-solids

coatings, waterbome coatings, and powder coatings. The names are descriptive of
the main type of carrier fluid present in the coating. The chemical nature, coating
characteristics and environmental issues of these four coating materials are
described in this chapter.

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