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Growth in the paints and coat­ings mar­ket con­tin­ues to pick up pace and en­duser pref­er­ences and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments are shift­ing the mar­ket to­wards dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies such as Big Data and mul­ti­func­tional/ smart coat­ings, com­pelling coat­ing com­pa­nies to move be­yond prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing to be­come to­tal so­lu­tion providers.

The de­vel­op­ment of smart/ mul­ti­func­tional coat­ing sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies, such as self-heal­ing and anti-cor­ro­sion coat­ings are pre­sent­ing tremen­dous growth and high-value op­por­tu­ni­ties for coat­ing

The de­vel­op­ment of smart/ mul­ti­func­tional coat­ing sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies, such as self­heal­ing and an­ti­cor­ro­sion coat­ings are pre­sent­ing tremen­dous growth and high-value op­por­tu­ni­ties for coat­ing com­pa­nies

com­pa­nies across spe­cific in­dus­trial and in­fras­truc­tural sec­tors like man­u­fac­tur­ing and oil and gas.

Smart coat­ings are in­no­va­tive coat­ings that can re­act spon­ta­neously, due to in­built stim­uli-re­spon­sive mech­a­nisms. The func­tion­al­ity ob­tained from these class of coat­ings at the metal-so­lu­tion

in­ter­face in ag­gres­sive en­vi­ron­ments has led to ad­vances in an­ti­cor­ro­sion stud­ies and ap­pli­ca­tions. The pres­ence of high-qual­ity nanopar­ti­cles in coat­ing for­mu­la­tions con­trib­ute to tougher, more re­li­able coat­ings which have trig­gered un­prece­dented func­tion­al­i­ties in smart coat­ings.

The smart coat­ings re­spond to sin­gle/ mul­ti­ple ex­ter­nal stim­uli such as light, dirt, pH changes, tem­per­a­ture, ag­gres­sive liq­uids, bio-foulant, im­pact, fa­tigue etc; and have demon­strated out­stand­ing, bar­rier prop­er­ties with scratch re­sis­tance, in-situ heal­ing, su­per­hy­dropho­bic­ity, su­per­oleophilic­ity, high op­ti­cal trans­mis­sion, ther­mal sta­bil­ity, and re­sis­tance to strong acids etc., re­sult­ing in ex­tended ser­vice life of the coat­ings and the pro­tected me­tal­lic ma­te­ri­als. The uti­liza­tion of these smart coat­ings in com­plex, real-time con­di­tions, ef­fec­tively con­trols the trig­gers of me­tal­lic degra­da­tion, struc­tural fail­ures, and re­source de­ple­tion.

All of this sug­gests that smart coat­ings (and smart ma­te­ri­als more gen­er­ally) will be a sub­stan­tial busi­ness op­por­tu­nity go­ing for­ward, and ex­perts in the in­dus­try ex­pect to see large firms make sub­stan­tial in­vest­ments in this area; some have al­ready. These firms will in­clude not just coat­ings com­pa­nies, but also the large glass firms, and other com­pa­nies higher up the sup­ply chain.

Smart coat­ings is al­ready a vi­brant enough topic to have spawned dozens of R&D projects all over the world, not to men­tion sev­eral con­fer­ences. In the near fu­ture smart coat­ings will cre­ate pro­tectable in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty (IP), avoid com­modi­ti­za­tion of coat­ings prod­ucts and lead to a stream of new prod­ucts over a sus­tained pe­riod of time.

These trends will have im­por­tant con­se­quences. The trend to­wards a bet­ter IP en­vi­ron­ment will at­tract new at­ten­tion for the smart coat­ings busi­ness from ven­ture and an­gel cap­i­tal­ists.

Self-Heal­ing Coat­ings: The big tech­no­log­i­cal leap for­ward that ex­perts ex­pect in the area of self-heal­ing coat­ings is an im­prove­ment in terms of the type and size of dam­age that they can self-heal. While we are not buy­ing the hype on smart coat­ings some­day be­ing able to re­pair ma­jor dam­age to an air­craft fuse­lage, there is plenty of room for im­prove­ment in to­day’s self-heal­ing coat­ings, which are often lit­tle more than anti-scratch coat­ings. How­ever, com­pe­ti­tion in this space will not be just on what size of hole or scratch a coat­ing can re­pair, but also on:

1. how long the re­pair takes (some self­heal­ing coat­ings to­day can take many hours), and

2. the longevity of the coat­ings

Self-As­sem­bling Coat­ings: Self-as­sem­bling coat­ings can al­ready demon­strate some im­pres­sive ad­van­tages, and re­searchers be­lieve these will only in­crease as new gen­er­a­tions of self-as­sem­bling coat­ings come onto the mar­ket. In par­tic­u­lar, ad­vanced self-as­sem­bling coat­ings can pro­vide re­duc­tion in the cost and ease of man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses. For ex­am­ple, self-strat­i­fy­ing coat­ings can al­ready pro­vide a way to elim­i­nate the need for mul­ti­ple coats. But it seems likely that as self-as­sem­bling coat­ings (and self-as­sem­bling ma­te­ri­als more gen­er­ally) evolve, they will be­come an im­por­tant part of ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques.

Self-Clean­ing Coat­ings: Self-clean­ing ovens are ubiq­ui­tous, but other self­clean­ing coat­ings and self-clean­ing sur­face op­por­tu­ni­ties have yet to be ex­ploited be­cause of the ab­sence of suit­able coat­ings, es­pe­cially coat­ings with ad­e­quate life­times. For ex­am­ple, self-clean­ing win­dows have been avail­able on the mar­ket since 2001, but they tend not to last long, which is the

rea­son they have never made it out of the sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­den­tial sec­tor.

An in­cen­tive for de­vel­op­ing such coat­ings is ob­vi­ously that they pro­vide low main­te­nance, re­duced clean­ing time and re­duced cost. To best ex­ploit these op­por­tu­ni­ties, new hy­drophilic, hy­dropho­bic, oleo­pho­bic, am­phipho­bic and mul­ti­func­tional coat­ings are be­ing de­vel­oped. Some of the tech­no­log­i­cal trends with rea­son­able po­ten­tial in the area of self-clean­ing coat­ings are:

1. nano-tech­no­log­i­cal ap­proaches to tex­tured hy­dropho­bic sur­faces; and

2. su­per-hy­dropho­bic coat­ings.

Smart Coat­ings and the IoT: The idea be­hind IoT is that us­ing em­bed­ded sen­sors and pro­ces­sors, build­ings, ap­pli­ances, ma­chines and ob­jects will be­come more re­spon­sive to hu­man needs in both per­sonal and pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ments, and pro­vide in­creased func­tion­al­ity and en­hanced data col­lec­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

While smart ma­te­ri­als are not be­ing promi­nently men­tioned in cur­rent IoT lit­er­a­ture, ex­perts in the field see a per­fect fit. Ideas in­clude: coat­ings that clean and re­pair them­selves ei­ther au­to­mat­i­cally or in re­sponse to ex­ter­nal cues; sen­sors em­bed­ded into coat­ings and sur­faces that col­lect data and re­act as needed; and a smart coat­ing that func­tions as a sen­sor that serves as a more cost-ef­fec­tive way to cre­ate a wide-area sens­ing panel than a large ar­ray of sens­ing de­vices. The pos­si­bil­i­ties in this re­gard are sig­nif­i­cant.

En­ergy and Con­struc­tion: Much of the mar­ket em­pha­sis in the smart coat­ings space dur­ing the past decade has been on the build­ing prod­ucts sec­tor, with green ini­tia­tives be­ing an im­por­tant driver. How­ever in 2015, the de­cline in oil prices has not only taken the steam out the en­ergy ef­fi­ciency story but threat­ens to curb the resur­gent green build­ing sec­tor where self-heal­ing and self-clean­ing coat­ings seemed to have vi­able ap­pli­ca­tions.

Re­searchers be­lieve that mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties for smart coat­ings are go­ing to be more lim­ited in the oil and gas sec­tor, com­pared to what it was ini­tially ex­pected in pre­vi­ous smart coat­ings mar­ket analy­ses. In par­tic­u­lar, it is ex­pected that the smart pro­tec­tive coat­ings that in the past have been sold to gas and oil firms look­ing for new wells and de­posits will see a de­cline, as many shale oil firms have rad­i­cally cut back on their cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­tures, for ex­am­ple.

How­ever, this does not im­ply that the de­cline in the en­ergy sec­tor will last for­ever, and once en­ergy prices start trend­ing up­ward in some sus­tain­able way it is ex­pected that the mar­ket for en­ergy-re­lated smart coat­ings will re­vive.

In the mean­time, R&D into new en­ergy tech­nolo­gies con­tin­ues, and smart coat­ings may find a role there -in the de­vel­op­ment of fuel cells, for ex­am­ple. In ad­di­tion, smart coat­ings are be­ing de­vel­oped for use as oil-fil­ter­ing ma­te­ri­als that can com­pletely sep­a­rate oil and water in an eco­nom­i­cal man­ner. And given the reg­u­la­tory sup­port for eco-friendly oil spill re­moval so­lu­tions, new prod­ucts based on smart coat­ings are still likely to be com­mer­cially pop­u­lar.

Also, mar­ket re­searchers see a lot of ac­tiv­ity in the self-heal­ing con­crete sec­tor, which is in no way de­pen­dent on en­ergy prices. It is be­lieved that ac­tive smart coat­ings will re­main re­stricted to new con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, be­cause retrofitting ap­pli­ca­tions will re­main pro­hib­i­tively ex­pen­sive for the ma­jor­ity of con­sumers.

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