Process Improvement Initiatives to Address Coating Failure  

Different types of coating are used extensively in industrial environments to protect expensive machinery, equipment, and other assets. The application of the right protective coating is critical to the functionality and longevity of industrial assets. However, creating the right kind of protective coating demands a critical analysis of the hazards and challenges posed by the end-use environment of the substrate.  

A complex mixture of different raw materials, coatings are applied, dried, and cured to protect different substrates from heat, humidity, moisture, cold, wind, UV rays, oxidation, and other environmental factors capable of breaking down the integrity of the substrate over time. These coatings are available in many different forms, including powders, paints, lacquers, sealers, varnishes, primers, etc. In addition to protecting the substrate from weather elements, coatings also provide resistance to corrosion, static and electrostatic discharge, heat, flame, and water.  

Understanding Coating Failure  

A coating is said to have failed when it is no longer able to perform its intended purpose. It takes place when there is a weakening or loss of the bond between the coating and its substrate. Catastrophic coating failure is a serious concern, and it can occur all of a sudden. Discussed below are the most common causes of coating failures.  

Inadequate or Improper Surface Preparation: Proper surface preparation is essential for creating a strong bond between the coating and the substrate. If the surface is not adequately prepared, a variety of defects or failures may result, including cratering, blistering, detaching, crawling, orange peeling, improper wetting, and uneven gloss. 

Inadequate or Improper Application Environment: Coating failure may also take place because of a wide spectrum of environmental factors during application. Variances in temperature, humidity, cleanliness, and air purity can cause uneven spreading or reduce the effectiveness of the bond, resulting in failures such as cratering, solvent popping, wetting, or blistering.  

Inadequate or Improper Application Technique: Most of the liquid coating formulations are applied by spraying, rolling, dipping, or brushing. However, specific techniques and equipment are essential for each of these application methods. If the right techniques and equipment are not used, there may be failures such as sagging, peeling, or running.  

Improper Formulation: The formulation of a coating must be tailored according to the product’s manufacturing process and end-use environment. If this is not done, the coating will fail even if all other factors are taken care of. Common examples of formulation failures include erosion, cracking, mud-cracking, chalking, alligatoring, etc.  

Process Improvements for Preventing Coating Failures  

Adequate surface preparation is critical to creating a robust bond between the coating and the substrate. This requires the removal of contaminants that contribute to blistering, improper wetting, coverage failures, and other adhesion issues. While tailoring their precleaning protocols, operators must take into account the surface contaminants likely to be present and address them.  

Paint guns, spray tips, hoses, and other coating equipment tend to deteriorate over time. Therefore, it is important for organisations to implement a standard equipment audit process. This audit can go a long way in addressing contamination and improper coverage during application. 

Workers involved in the coating application process should be encouraged to provide feedback concerning coating application or curing-related challenges faced by them. This feedback can be used by the manufacturers to adjust their application procedures as well as formulations to better suit their production processes. 

Finally, it is also important to ensure that proper coating formulation is used. If a facility makes changes to its equipment, materials, and processes, coating formulations should also adapt to these changes so that it can perform as expected.   

If you have any other questions about coating failure and its prevention, please contact our experts at Coating Management Solutions.