Coating Chemistries, and Differentiating Marketing Terms from Actual Chemistry

At Feynlab, we truly believe we have the best products, and a deeper understanding of chemistry than most of our competitors. Occasionally, a marketing term becomes synonymous with a chemical term, and we get asked when we will release a similar product. It is annoying for us at Feynlab when this happens, as we generally try and stay transparent and realistic about what chemistries we use without giving too much information away. However, it can be difficult for customers to distinguish between true chemistries, and terms that sound good but actually have no scientific backing, or have fundamental scientific flaws in their claims.

What Feynlab coatings are composed of is one of our most frequently asked questions. Inquiries into our chemical’s compositions include: Titanium, Siloxane, Silicon Carbide, Silicon Nitride, Silane, Silica, Graphene, “Ceramic” or “Glass.” The answer is none of our coatings are really based on just one type of chemistry, and the majority of the list above is just marketing buzzwords. We take an integrated approach since all types of chemistry have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, having purely Silane based coatings would limit our chemical scope, which would be an overall disadvantage to our long-term chemical potential. Instead, we start with our base resins, then react them in complementary groups to create a balanced and well-performing coating that combines elements of the best chemistries.

True chemistry or marketing term?

The best way to answer this question is to go through each term one-by-one.
In general, our argument for many of these “miracle” chemical claims is that if they were true, the inventors would have likely received a Nobel Prize by now. They certainly wouldn’t be hawking this technology in the automotive industry, because there would be far better and more lucrative applications of this technology in other industries if they truly yielded what they claim.

TITANIUM

We don’t get asked about Titanium much anymore, but it was THE buzz word of 2018. If you didn’t have a titanium coating, you only had garbage. The claims were that the products created a “titanium matrix” within the coating. This made it super strong, flame proof and it could easily withstand the lighter strike test (hopefully you all know that this test is a bit of a joke by now). We decided not to indulge in the marketing wave, and tried to educate people when asked about it.

1.) Titanium catalysts; most ceramic coatings contain a catalyst. A catalyst aids curing at room temperature, meaning a certain temperature threshold isn’t required. Titanium catalysts bring the activation energy of the reaction down to below room temperature in silicone type resins. The titanium catalyst does not form part of the coating, and has no functional part in the performance. It’s an inert part of the material that facilitates the curing reaction, and it’s a pretty normal thing to do. We use titanium catalysts in some of our coatings.

2.) Titanium Dioxide Nano-particles (TiO2); TiO2 can block UV while being transparent to visible light. The Nano-particles are also photo-catalytic, which means they break down organic matter in the presence of sun light. This reaction is good for keeping surfaces clean. However, it will also break down the organic parts in a coating significantly reducing its life. So we normally avoid TiO2, unless it’s enhanced to make it non photo-catalytic. There are other nano-particles that are easier to use, and offer better UV resistance on a broader spectrum.

Titanium isopropoxide catalyst – http://www.umich.edu/~chemh215/W15HTML/SSG2/ssg2.1/LeadingQuestion.html

Summary: Is TITANIUM a real chemistry or a marketing term?
It is a real chemistry, but over emphasis on “titanium” in their product images and branding definitely makes it more of a marketing term in this context.

SILOXANE

Siloxane refers to a group of chemistry Si-O-Si-O chains or matrices. There are many forms of Siloxanes, and you may see them listed as: Polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS, Polysiloxane, Polysiloxane resins, etc. In most complex builds of ceramic coatings, Siloxanes play an important role. They are clear and glossy and, depending on how they are used functionally, can be extremely slick.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/39/Silicone_resin.svg/1200px-Silicone_resin.svg.png
An example of a Polysiloxane resin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicone_resin

Summary: Is SILOXANE a real chemistry or a marketing term?
It’s 100% a real chemistry, and used very commonly in coating chemistries.

SILICON CARBIDE

Pure Silicone Carbide (SiC) is a very misleading term for this otherwise real chemistry. SiC groups can be formed in a coating by utilizing some of the groups in your Siloxane resin. In the diagram above, you can see that there are “R” groups at the end the matrices. These “R” groups are the utilized groups. It is possible to react a carbon group within “R” groups to create some SiC groups. SiC groups are incredibly chemically resistant. SiC is a good component to have in a coating when it is in the right place in small amounts.

Pure SiC would be black. If one could form Pure SiC from a liquid at room temperature, there would definitely be a Nobel Prize attached to it, because you could use whatever technique you created to do a whole lot of other impossible chemistries.

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/wqcAAOxyHslQ5VpT/s-l500.jpg
Pure Silicon Carbide powder is black – https://www.ebay.com/itm/SILICON-CARBIDE-180-GRIT-POWDER-CERIUM-OXIDE-LAPIDARY-STONE-TUMBLING-POLISHING-/261522359576

Summary: Is SILICON CARBIDE a real chemistry or a marketing term?
It’s a real chemistry, but similar to the situation with “titanium”, its use in products and the benefits it adds is over stated. However, when used correctly it can add some benefits. For this reason it’s a 50/50 marketing term and real chemistry split.

SILAZANE

Silicon Nitride (SiN) or Silazane, results in a similar outcome to Siloxane. There is just an extra step in the reaction where the Nitrogen gets kicked out, and replaced with an Oxygen to form Siloxanes. SiN is extremely difficult to use during production. Most companies shy away from it, and go the Siloxane route. SiN is an actual chemistry function, and we do see it used as a marketing point-of-difference term.

Summary: Is SILAZANE a real chemistry or a marketing term?
Similar to Siloxanes, it is 100% a real chemistry.

SILANE

Arguably, Silanes don’t make great paint protection coatings on their own, however they are still commonly used. Silanes react incredibly quickly, so they would normally have a short dwell time, and work would have to be done in small sections. The outcome is an extremely slick and hydrophobic coating, unfortunately with poor durability. Silanes are the building blocks of Siloxanes, and other silicone type resins.

Summary: Are SILANES a real chemistry or a marketing term?
Similar to Siloxanes, it is 100% a real chemistry and not a marketing term.

SILICA

In most cases, these terms are just another way to refer to siloxane resins. Silica should really be in the Siloxane group above. However, these terms are also used to describe Slica Nano-particles. Silica Nano-particles can be utilized to create some interesting properties in coatings.

Summary: Is SILICA a real chemistry or a marketing term?
It is 100% a real chemistry but it is sometimes used out of context, and therefore it is a 30/70 ratio of real chemistry and a marketing term respectively.

GRAPHENE

Graphene is the buzzword of 2020, and we are getting a lot of questions about when we will be releasing the “FEYNLAB GRAPHENE” coating. Unfortunately, we won’t be releasing a Graphene coating for automotive paint. We are seeing a similar trend as with Titanium in 2018. It’s the newest marketing term, and people like new!

At the start of this paper, we claimed to have the best understanding of the chemistry used in the industry today. That claim is not just from theory, we try out and experiment with everything, and that is no different with Graphene. We conducted our initial experiments with Graphene in 2015, along with exploring carbon nano tubes and functionalized nano diamonds. The literature showed great potential, especially for the functionalized types of Graphene that have reactive groups.

First, a short description of how companies are making their Graphene coatings. They take Graphene powdered platelets (graphite powder) and mix it into their normal coatings, and they do not try and mislead people about this. They are open about saying they use Graphene in a Polysiloxane coating for example. It’s exceptionally simple to do, there are no adverse reactions, or difficult chemical techniques. It’s just taking a powder and mixing it into a fully formulated coating. This is not unusual, as there are many additives that are added at the end of the process, and Graphene powdered platelets are an additive.

Now back to our experience with Graphene, we realized a fundamental issue. Graphene is unique because it has a large aspect ratio. This means Graphene powder platelets are wafer thin and wide. If we scaled it up, it would be equivalent in size to the layer of grass on a football field, thin but wide. For it to be considered Graphene, the platelets would have to be about 5 micron in width or few nano-meters high. 5 micron is big, and it’s black in color which means it would be visible. Not only in the bottle, but also on the paint. A coating with a 5 micron particle dispersion on paint would absolutely be visible. To give an idea, 5 micron is typically the average size of the abrasive in most polishing compounds. Additionally, 5 microns is typically thicker than most coatings, so the Graphene platelets would most likely be pulled out during the buffing stage. It can be easy to say, “Why don’t you just reduce the Graphene size to nano-scale, so that it would still be colored in the bottle but invisible on the surface, like with other nano-particles?” That’s where the fundamental issue comes in. That can be done, but it would no longer be Graphene. The aspect ratio would be destroyed, and what is left would be carbon black nano-particles. We use carbon black in our FEYNLAB Plastic Black, and it works great for that application. But it’s obviously not recommend for paint.

We still believe that there is potential for Graphene in coatings, but not in thin film coatings for automotive. Graphene requires a thick layer, around the 100 micron mark, to incorporate it. It’s something we may revisit for architectural or industrial applications.

An objective look at some of the claims about Graphene type coatings will show that they don’t make sense.

1.) Improved heat dissipation results in less water spots. One of the advantages of Graphene is Thermal conductivity. It can transfer heat from end to end exceedingly effectively, so if we use our grass analogy from above, it would be very good at transferring heat from one end of the field to the other. In theory, to make a coating that dissipates heat, presumably away from the car, then all the platelets would have to be perfectly perpendicular to the paint and stick upright, which seems unlikely. These films are also extremely thin. The claim that it would have any substantial affect on the thermal conductivity of any surface seems pretty far fetched. Some companies claim “better heat dissipation” from brake calipers when coated. These same companies do flame tests on their hood showing how insulated it is from heat, meaning no heat transfer to paint, thereby no damage. So which one is it? It can’t be both insulated, and transferable.

2.) Increased hydrophobic abilities. This is most likely untrue, there would be equivalent hydrophobic ability in the products before Graphene powder was added.

3.) Graphene coatings form as single thin layer of graphene on the paint. The below illustration shows a Graphene layer being formed on the paint. Similar images are used by companies to illustrate the effect of their product. Unfortunately, however, you will not get this outcome by simply mixing some graphene powdered platelets into your favorite ceramic coating. In fact if you were able to form a single, uniform layer of graphene on the surfaces you would again be in Nobel Prize territory. The applications of that in the electronics industry would be immeasurable.

Illustration showing single layer of graphene on a surface – stock image

Graphene coatings are pretty much just your average every day Ceramic Coating with a bit of powder mixed in. We think we are going to see a lot more companies enter the market with a “Graphene coating”, especially since it is really simple to mix in some Graphene powder into a coating. Feynlab will stick to what we know, and avoid flashy trends. There is potential for Graphene in thicker film coatings, but it seems like there are other easier to use nano-particles that will deliver better performance in thin film or “Ceramic” coatings.

Summary: Is GRAPHENE a real chemistry or a marketing term?
Graphene is real, but graphene in thin film hand applied coatings is 100% a marketing term.

CERAMIC OR GLASS COATING

We often get asked which type we think is better. Unfortunately, those terms don’t really refer to any type of chemistry. In the US, we normally refer to paint protection coatings as Ceramic coatings, whereas in Japan and the East they are mostly referred to as Glass coatings. It’s interchangeable, and the terms really don’t mean anything. Competitors broadly use these terms for products that form a durable long lasting layer on the paint. And Ceramic is now widely used as a marketing term for a product that is higher performing than a sealant.

Summary: Is CERAMIC OR GLASS COATING a marketing term?
These terms are 100% marketing terms, and don’t actually refer to any specific type of chemistry.

TO CONCLUDE

Unfortunately, some companies are just relabeling their sealants with “Ceramic” in the product name or descriptor. It may be worth starting a trade organization that protects and fully defines the term “Ceramic”, because otherwise it is going to get heavily overused in the market place. Feynlab Ceramic is better than any other on the current market and we are going to protect that integrity. Our Ceramic is of the highest possible caliber and we distinguish ourselves with every car that proudly wears our coating.

One thought on “Coating Chemistries, and Differentiating Marketing Terms from Actual Chemistry

  1. Stephen says:

    Had been using Feynlab for all my customers over 5+ years, and I can say that it has the longest lasting out of all the other ones we have tried. I have been running my car detailing shop for over 15 years and Feynlab products never disappoints. All my customers who asked for ceramic coating services notice the differences right away when they come from other shops that use other brands of coating chemicals.

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