The protective coatings industry has made significant advancements in the past 10 years. The EPA and environmental standards have contributed to the progress, and manufacturers have responded with updated technology. Complex chemistries, especially with respect to nanocoating and specialty chemical formulations, have facilitated the development of many specialized protective coatings for distinct purposes.
In addition to the familiar three-coat protective coating system used for applications such as bridges and tank exteriors, we now have even more sophisticated options. For example, cellulosic fire protection coatings keep office spaces safer, and hydrocarbon fire protection coatings safeguard petrochemical refineries and mass storage facilities. And for the maritime industry, specialized antifouling coatings prevent aquatic life from attaching to ship hulls, allowing the vessels to glide more easily through the water for better fuel efficiency.
Many advanced protective coatings have thick compositions, pushing the boundaries of traditional spray application equipment. In response, manufacturers like Titan now offer high-pressure pumps that will deliver 7200 psi. In addition, many complex coatings require heat when being applied, so it is essential for spray equipment to provide consistent, accurate temperature control. Ratio accuracy is also imperative when applying plural-component coatings, so sprayers with electronically integrated proportioning systems for proper chemical cross-linking and cure are now recommended.
Spray guns have also evolved with advancements in protective coatings. Applying thicker, more aggressive coatings requires a heavy-duty gun, as the higher the pressure, the harder it is to hold the trigger open. New high-pressure guns with offset cam designs, like the Titan Apex gun, shown below, are rated for 5000 psi and require only 1.25 pounds of force to engage and hold the trigger open. That's 27 percent less than competitive guns, which require 1.7 pounds of force. In addition, advancements in ergonomic design make the guns much more comfortable in the operator's hand. Custom, multiple-point adjustability for the best fit contributes to less fatigue, especially when spraying at high pressures.
Protective coatings will no doubt continue to evolve with changing industry requirements. To keep pace with these developments, sprayer system manufacturers must innovate constantly and expand equipment capabilities to meet the needs of the industry.