In modern companies, one aspect that has become vitally important (especially after the crisis that engulfed the world a few years ago) consists in the search for goods, systems and consumer items that have an adequate quality tied to increasingly controlled prices.
The most far-sighted purchasing managers pay particular attention to the potential maintenance phase of these parts. Repairs, in fact, could weigh enormously on the cost of maintenance over time, which is why functional coatings represent an increasingly topical solution. They lead to high performance and long lifetimes that the ‘base’ object, by itself, could never reach.
Surface coatings: an evolving sector
To reach these goals, the coatings industry is undergoing continuous development and specialization, studying applications in greater depth to meet increasingly specific, customized needs.
Even today, however, it is not always assumed that surface coatings are required or that they should be sought out to increase the performance of an object, product or machine—even when faced with the possibility that, with them, performance becomes exceptional.
Why doesn’t everyone invest in a state-of-the-art surface coating?
The first and most trivial of reasons relates to cost. Unfortunately, it may be that coating is excluded when trying to contain and control expenses. The price of the ‘bare’ object can often be halved, if not more, which can have a huge impact, especially if the usefulness of the coating itself is not well understood.
In more than a few cases, however, users must retrace their steps and order the same object, but coated, or (when possible) apply the coating on the one already purchased, facing greater costs and problematic downtime.
In these circumstances, the trust established between the coater, manufacturer and user plays a fundamental role. Through open consultation and analysis, a real partnership can form, in which the correct functional coating is proposed when it is really needed. Indeed, if it is not—precisely to contain costs for the end user—the consultation will show that it is not necessary to carry out any additional application.
It is thanks to these cases and the trust established that, should the coating become vitally important, even the strictest purchasing offices will take a different view of an investment in a new, coated and certainly more functional object.
Coated objects have a longer lifespan
A contrary issue is that the coated object inevitably has a longer lifespan. In fact, different manufacturers are not always in favour of coatings, which usually involve a lower number of parts being sold.
This point is related to the previous one. Faced with timely, observant, professional advice, there is no real reason to fear the application of coatings. By supplying technologically advanced objects when required, business hardly suffers from this particular performance upgrade. On the contrary, customers develop greater confidence, having immediately achieved better performance.
It is also true that the most informed manufacturers are the first to look for increasingly cutting-edge solutions to sell their products as a finished piece. The most ‘enlightened’, so to speak, know well that they will immediately obtain greater customer trust with an object that provides a better production response. Furthermore, working in the research and development phase, they can also alter the materials to be used for production or their geometry. Basically, it is often possible to use less noble raw materials that provide excellent performance and allow for considerable savings when coated.
Sectors of application for surface coatings
In addition to the large category of manufacturers, surface coatings are particularly useful for users, since objects can then be employed in situations where they would normally not be (or they could, but with a lot of effort).
For example, let’s imagine a tank used in the paint sector, coated with a PFA solution that allows for easy cleaning when changing the production solution. Without treatment, this type of processing would involve a lot of time and specific solvents to wash the system.
Another common example relates to tooling. A bit or drilling machine would wear out very quickly, but with a PVD coating, the use is maintained without negatively affecting the geometry of the objects.
In industry we also find various galvanizing methods that provide very important resistance to chemical aggression and wear at limited costs.
Finally, an object coated with a thermal spray solution, which can be used in many different sectors, would cover a work surface at low cost with a metal that is much more resistant and ‘expendable’ than the base metal.
The results illustrated above can only be achieved through information and experience. Companies in the world of coatings are continuously incorporating technicians from all sorts of sectors in their staffs to draw on their know-how and understand what is actually useful for the object.
Not only that, more and more specialists in metals, chemistry and physics are being introduced in the research and development phase to study and identify extremely efficient technical solutions at the most competitive prices possible.