It’s the 2016 Nobel Prize season, and there’s a prize for:
- Chemistry: Molecular Machines (sounds cool, batteries not included)
- Physics: “…for theoretical discoveries of…” (What on earth is a theoretical discovery? Aren’t there any actual discoveries to award?)
- Physiology: Understanding the mechanism for the degradation of cells.
There is never a Nobel Prize given for Technology. But, if there were, let’s consider some candidates in the area of factory-applied coatings for metal:
- Automotive Coatings—dazzling finishes, robotic painting, with coatings that last a lifetime (10 years, in this case)
- Powder Coatings—0 VOC technology, high-temperature bake, thick films (2-5 mils)
- Aerospace Finishes—must function under demanding applications
- Metal Furniture Coatings—no particular demand placed on the coating, other than wear resistance
- Coil Coatings–an area near and dear to our hearts
And the Nobel Prize for Industrial Coatings goes to…Coil Coatings. [Sounds of cheering and confetti being shot into the air.]
Consider the facts that the judges (or, in this case, the one judge…me!) had before them:
- The coil coating process coats metal area about 25 times faster than any other metal coating process.
- No metal coating process requires a coating to cure as fast—15-30 seconds. A bake of 5-10 minutes is more common for many Industrial Coatings.
- A typical coil coating paint system is about 1.4 mils (topcoat, primer, backer). Most other industrial coatings are in the neighborhood of 2-5 mils.
- A car takes about 30 minutes to prime and topcoat; a metal building (say, 50 feet x 30 feet x 20 feet; wall and roof) is painted in about 5 minutes on a coil coating line.
- No other coating is expected to have the usual 40+ years lifetime that coil coatings have.
- Most metal coating processes involve a pre-fabricated part; prepainted metal is always post-formed. Therefore, a coil coating must be hard, damage resistant, and flexible enough to withstand the forming operations.
During this annual period of exultation over arcane advancements, it pays to remember that our industry—like Powder—is also 0 VOC, but those powder ovens make no attempt to capture the waste heat and return it for use within the facility. Automotive colors are truly spectacular, but prepainted architectural panels also have color effects that add “pop” to a building. I will admit that watching robots paint a BMW is very cool! Standing on a coil coating line and watching paint dry is, well, not quite the same thing. But always remember this, nobody—not any other industry—does as much, as fast, as efficiently, as sustainably, to produce a product that has such an obvious value proposition as we do in the coil coating industry.
The scientists may win the Prize, but we have all the metals! 🙂