Glassy coatings for car components combining protection with aesthetics

Recently developed glassy coatings for car components combine protection against corrosion and wear with the addition of colour.

These days’ decorative elements such as coloured wheel rims, brake block holders, exhausts, sills, bodywork and even engine parts are in increasing demand from car enthusiasts. Decorative coatings protected against corrosion and wear would therefore provide the ideal combination.

Researchers at INM - Leibniz-Institüt für neue Materialen in Saarbrücken (Germany) have come up with coatings with glassy and glass-ceramic properties. They reduce the level of corrosion and wear, as well as the extent to which surfaces are susceptible to cracks, loss of lustre and other oxidisation processes. In addition to these protective properties, the production method can be used to apply the colours red, black, green, white and blue for decorative purposes. These coatings are stable at high temperatures and suitable for metal surfaces such as steel, aluminium and alloys, or as a protective layer on vitreous components. Other properties that can be added thanks to the glassy characteristics, include for example anti-sticking qualities, specific layer flexibility and electrical insulation. 

The researchers used special silicates for the coatings. These were converted into sol-gel nano-composites in a single step reaction. Depending on the colour pigment and substrate, this allows surfaces to be hermetically sealed at temperatures between 200 and 800 °C. The layer thickness's are between 2 and 8 µm. It is a simple operation to apply coatings to both curved and flat surfaces deploying either immersion baths or spray cabinets.