Everything You Need to Know About Nanocoating

Everything You Need to Know About Nanocoating

Blue Web Of Particles Nanocoating

Did you know experts predict the market for high performance nanocoatings will nearly double in the next seven years? When you hear the term nanocoatings (also known as ceramic coatings), the first thing that comes to mind might be the shiny glaze you put on the mug you made in art class. You might not think of the automotive and aerospace industries or cutting-edge companies like MicroScreen, but nanocoatings have a wide range of applications in these and other industries.

What Is Nanocoating?

A nanocoating is a thin layer of particles (i.e., a film) that is applied to the surface of something to protect it or improve its functionality in some other capacity. Nano (from the Greek word for dwarf) refers to the nanoscale, which ranges from tens to hundreds of nanometers. Bear in mind that one nanometer (nm) is 10-9 meters, or about the width of three atoms!

 

Nanocoatings are most commonly applied using a process known as atomic layer deposition. Nanoparticles are deposited in vapor form onto the surface (also called the "substrate") in a controlled manner. This process builds up the coating layer by layer until it achieves the desired thickness.

 

Other coatings, such as MicroScreen's MicroGlide consist of a single, molecule-thick layer known as a “monolayer.” This offers several advantages. It can be applied with an accuracy of and uniformity of thickness that allow it to achieve exceptionally even coverage of the substrate. It’s also thin enough to avoid the need to adjust parts with sensitive tolerances. 

 

MicroGlide is relatively simple and inexpensive to replace. Additionally, as the thin monolayer wears away, only a negligible amount of bulk waste is produced. This means that the components that MicroGlide protects won't suffer from flux contamination. The specifics of a given nanocoating's design vary with its intended use and application.

What Types of Nanocoating Are Available?

Nanocoatings are made from a variety of materials and with a wide array of functionalities in mind. Some of the substances that compose these materials include

  • Titanium dioxide
  • Lead sulfide
  • Silver
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Mesoporous silica
  • Magnesium fluoride
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Polyaniline nanofibers

 

Another material that sees common use in nanocoatings is fluoropolymer. It is highly water repellent and wear resistant. MicroScreen now offers an even tougher coating: MicroGlide Platinum. This extremely hard and thin coating is heat fused, making it resistant to cracks and chips. Its functionality can even be checked with a dyne pen.

What Are the Benefits of Nanocoating?

Depending on the composition of a given nanocoating and how it is prepared, it will have one or a combination of the following characteristics. It can then lend these to the surface onto which they are applied.

Self-Cleaning

This property can be achieved by making a surface repel water (hydrophobic) and oil (oleophobic). This also causes it to repel dirt and dust by refusing such particles access to a surface that is rough enough to cling to. There are also instances in which making a surface attract water (hydrophilic) can also be used to make it self-cleaning.

Antibacterial

These nanocoatings prevent or impede the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. This can improve the effectiveness of certain antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria. It can also help prevent corrosion, which often results from the growth of certain microbes.

Scratch Resistant

The nanomaterials that comprise an anti-scratch coating can be many times harder than the surface they're applied to. Thus, they will also be at least somewhat harder than most of the other materials they come into contact with. This increased hardness makes the surface more resistant to abrasions like scratches and scuffs.

Antireflective

These coatings improve the light transmission characteristics of various optical systems. They do this by greatly reducing incident reflection and stray light. They use the principle of destructive interference to achieve this.

Flame Retardant

Heat-resistant substances can be deposited in nanoscale layers. Several of these layers can adhere to the surfaces of some highly flammable plastics, woods, and textiles. This makes it much harder for them to ignite.

Antifriction

The excellent wear characteristics and incredible smoothness of some nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes make them excellent for lubricating surfaces.

 

In addition to the many improvements that nanocoatings can make to various surfaces, they are also highly sustainable. Depending on the application, some can have up to a 25-year lifetime.

How Are Nanocoatings Used?

Nanocoatings can convey their highly desirable characteristics in a vast range of applications. Here are a few of the most common.

Cooking Utensils

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE or Teflon) has long been the functional component of non-stick cookware. Now, however, water-based ceramic nanocoatings are increasingly used to make safer, better-performing non-stick cookware.

Optics

Hydrophobic, oleophobic, anti-reflective, and scratch-resistant coatings can improve the optical performance of lenses used in several different industries. Spectacles, cameras, microscopes, telescopes, and binoculars all gain significant performance improvements from such coatings. 

Automotive

Nanocoatings enjoy heavy use in the automotive industry on displays, mirrors, and scratch-resistant coatings. They can also be used to make engine parts more resistant to wear and corrosion as well as to make upholstery stain-resistant and antibacterial.

Aerospace

Much of the aerospace industry's use of nanocoatings is analogous to that of the automotive industry. However, nanocoatings are also used on aircraft surfaces to protect them from the harsh conditions of flight. Aircraft may also make use of self-healing coatings.

Stencils

Nanocoatings vastly improve the process of assembling surface-mount technology. They also help protect the stencils used in the manufacture of printed circuit boards from wear, extending component lifetimes and slowing failure rates.

 

The fact that MicroScreen's stencils are nanocoated, for instance, translates directly to lower production costs. That's because coated stencils don't need to be cleaned or inspected nearly as much as non-coated stencils. That extra labor is expensive, as are the costs that quality failure can incur.

Screens

When nanocoatings are applied to screens, these screens can then protect and enhance things like

  • Touchscreen panels
  • Flexible circuits
  • Wearable circuits
  • Printed moldable circuits
  • Membrane switches
  • Solar cells
  • LED panels
  • Packaging for electronic components

The Best Nanocoating for Your Next Project

Now that you know what nanocoating is and how it’s used, you may be wondering whether the perfect nanocoating exists for your next screen or stencil project. The answer is yes! We back our claim that MicroScreen and MicroGlide Platinum coatings won't crack or chip with a 3-year replacement guarantee. We offer multiple nanocoating designs for both short- and long-term production runs. Get in touch with us about your next screen or stencil project!

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