Low friction and better performance with oleophobic coating
Oleophobic literally means “afraid of oils”, but for a coating or surface this can be more accurately described as oil-repelling or oil-shedding. An oleophobic coating provides a substrate with a slick surface that is low friction, lubricating, easy to clean, repels oils, and is anti-soiling. There are many applications for a coating with these qualities, from medical device coating and machine components to pipe lining and touch screen protection.
In this article we will outline the different oleophobic coating types, the applications for these coatings, and manufacturers and companies providing these coatings in the US.
The 2 types of oleophobic coating to choose from
There are two types of coating that achieve an oleophobic surface: fluoropolymer coating and nano coating. Though these coatings are both oleophobic, they have many other differing physical properties that make them appropriate for certain uses and not others.
1. Fluoropolymers for industrial oleophobic coatings
A fluoropolymer coating is a general term for a class of non-stick coatings (including Teflon, Xylan, Excalibur, and Fluon), which are so named because they contain fluorocarbons. The strong bond between fluorine and carbon gives the fluoropolymer coating its oleophobic qualities. Fluoropolymers are also non-stick, abrasion resistant, low-friction, hydrophobic, have excellent heat resistance and thermal stability, and are chemical resistant.
Suggested applications: industrial applications in the oil and gas, construction, automotive, food processing, and aerospace industries. Consumer applications include non-stick cookware and fabrics like Gore-Tex. Fluoropolymers can be applied with different film thicknesses and colors.
2. Nanoparticles for transparent oleophobic protection
A nano coating uses nano materials and particles (in this case silica or SiO2) to create a barrier that protects a substrate on the nanoscale. The coating bonds chemically with the substrate, becoming part of it. The surface of a nano coating is either highly textured or has very low surface energy, which is what makes it oleophobic – the oils cannot “wet” the surface and are unable to adhere to it. This makes them easy to clean, hydrophobic, scratch resistant, and corrosion resistant.
Suggested applications: medical supplies and the consumer electronic industry – endoscope lenses, surgical visors, tubing, and the ubiquitous touch screen. They are also used a topcoat to protect a vehicle’s paint work, or as a measure to combat graffiti vandalism or public urination. Nano coatings are transparent, thin film layers which are often indistinguishable from the uncoated substrate.
The applications of oleophobic coating across industries
As you can see, there are important differences between the two oleophobic coating types that affect the applications for which they are most suitable. Below is a selection of oleophobic coating applications and the common choice of coating for each.
1. Automotive industry
An industry that revolves around machines that have a lot of moving parts that require oils to operate is an unsurprising user of oleophobic coatings. These are used for pistons, fuel system components, suspension components, connecting rods and more. Oleophobic coatings are also used for glass and bodywork to keep that brand new shine.
Suitable coating: Fluoropolymer coating is used for applications that require heat resistance such as engine components, nano coating for glass and paint protection.
2. Medical equipment
Oleophobic coatings are very important for the effective functioning of medical equipment and devices. These range from surgical instruments, visors, shields, and implants to life support machines, transfusion kits, and ultrasound equipment. An oleophobic coatings makes these items easy to clean, fluid-repelling, non-stick, and reduces the risk of contaminants and residue.
Suitable coating: Nano coating for screens, shields, and substrates that require visibility, fluoropolymers for lubricious, non-stick medical device applications.
3. Pipes, tubes & tanks
An oleophobic coating, when applied to the inside of a pipe, tube or tank, has a number of benefits. The contents of the pipe cannot build up on the walls of the pipe, accreting and blocking the flow. This means less maintenance and less energy consumption for the pumping station. An oleophobic coating acts to encourage the flow of fluids.
Suitable coating: Fluoropolymer coating.
4. Consumer electronics
Touch screens are an ever increasing part of daily lives. The trouble is keeping the screens clean when they come into constant contact with the oils secreted by our skin. Oleophobic coatings are the solution, providing a surface which repels oils and is easy to clean. The iPhone oleophobic coating was first used for the 3GS and has been on every model since.
Suitable coating: Oleophobic nano coating.
5. Other industries
Oleophobic coating and its uses are continuously being researched and new applications are regularly invented. Therefore, almost any industry can benefit from the unique properties of oleophobic coatings. If you have a project that requires such a solution, contact us! Our experts are happy to help you find the optimal solution for your project.
Suitable coating: Oleophobic nano coating and fluoropolymer coating.
Oleophobic coating manufacturers and suppliers in the USA
There are oleophobic coating companies providing both fluoropolymer and nano coating services operating in the USA. The application methods vary across coating type and even within coating type; so while fluoropolymers are applied by professionals, nano coatings are both professionally applied and available as DIY oleophobic coating kits more suited to at home phone screen restoration. A couple of the companies that provide oleophobic coating services are:
- Cytonix – For oleophobic fluoropolymer and nano coatings.
- Impreglon – For a wide range of fluoropolymer coatings for any surface.
If you would like more information about how to use oleophobic coatings for your project, get in touch! Use the button below or our contact form to let our experts know a little about your project and needs. Then we collaborate with our coating partners to determine the coating solution for your needs. The quote service is free, so why not try it today!