Conductive Coatings

conductive coatings

Make non conductive materials, conductive

Many materials have electrical conductive properties which work in their advantage. However, there are also non- and semi conductive materials such as plastic and glass which can be made electrically conductive. This happens through application of electrically conductive coating. The most common conductors include pure metals, metal alloys and ceramics. However, even the conductive properties of these materials may be affected by the environment.

Also, here conductive coatings can be useful for they make the conductors retain their conductivity. The best ingredients for low resistant electrical conductive coatings include copper and aluminium. High temperature conductive coatings for their part often contain iron, chrome and aluminium. Additionally, oxide ceramics are suitable conducting and semi-conducting materials.

Conductive coatings, thus, give electrical conductive properties to normally non conductive materials. They also protect and improve the properties of conductive and semi conductive materials.

The specialist in conductive coating in the UK

transparent conductive coating

Conductive coatings are suitable for many substrates, even for temperature sensitive materials. Applications are possible on different plastics as well as glass and steel assemblies. The thermal conductive coatings are for example used in heating elements, flexible circuits and commutator segments. Many other applications are additionally possible.

In the UK conductive coatings are available online as well as in hardware stores. Major brands for conductive coatings include PPG Industrial, Henkel and Bare Conductive. For bigger coating volume, it is wise to request a quotation to make sure to get the best price and product quality. In the UK there are numerous suppliers and manufacturers of conductive coatings including:

Sandwell UK Ltd
Address: 2 Foundry Place, Towcester
NN12 6FP

It’s not only electrifying!

Conductive coatings electrify otherwise non conductive materials. Nevertheless, this is not their only purpose; they have many more qualities and uses such as:

• Enhancing electrical conduction in insulating materials;
• Increasing the utility of semi conducting and non-conducting materials;
• Giving aesthetic properties and gloss to materials;
• Increasing resistance against corrosion and abrasion;
• Increasing durability of materials.

Electrically conductive coating for plastic

In case of plastic, the electrically conductive coating can either be a transparent or metallic system. The application temperature for transparent conductive coatings is below 50ºC due to the fact that low temperature conductive coating is commonly recommended for components and assemblies that require strict temperature control. Plastic, as material, is sensitive for high temperatures. Therefore, low temperature application is the only option.

Conductive coating for plastic is usually rather durable and has resistance to humidity and moisture.

Conductive coatings for plastic offer a permanent film which exhibits environmental stability and optical clarity. It also offers permanent and outstanding conductive properties. Conductive coatings can, additionally, improve the surface’s aesthetic looks. When this is the purpose, the surface goes through a “metallisation” process which creates a metallic surface on the plastic. This process also makes the surface resistant to abrasion and improves its electrical conductivity.

conductive coating on a piece of glass

Electrically conductive glass with coating

Conductive coating for glass is a solution which forms  a thin and transparent film on the glass surface. The film provides the glass surface with electrical conductivity.  Hard, tenacious and clear coatings with uniform thickness are suitable for non-conductive materials. These coatings retain conductivity properties also under adverse environmental conditions. The most common electrically conductive glass coatings contain chlorides (hydrated stannous chloride and hydrated stannic chloride).

Applying tin chloride helps obtain transparent and clear conductive coatings on glass. However, it is important that the product is appropriately diluted with water; for the amount of water affects the conducting properties of glass. Too little water will make the glass a poor conducting material.Too much water, on the other hand, can cause fogging and increase in thickness of the coating. Either way will render the coating as an insulating material. Best results are, however, achieved by exposing the glass to dry stannic chloride vapors in the presence of moist water vapors. This helps achieve a transparent coating with electrical conductive properties.

Clear conductive coating

A transparent or clear conductive coating is applicable when light transmission along with electrical conduction are necessary. Most commonly used substrate materials include glass, polymer optics and semiconductors. These are effectively applied on display windows, LCDs, heaters, laminated display boxes, instrument display areas or windows and touch panels. In this short YouTube video by coating manufacturer WC Richards you can see how this looks.

Conductive coating steel protection

Steel itself is an electrically conductive mixture of metals and a common building material. Nevertheless, steel is also highly corrosive and deteriorates easily. Therefore, properly protecting steel parts and structures is important. Conductive coating for steel protects surfaces from corrosion and abrasion as well as improve aesthetics of the treated surfaces.

In the future: graphene conductive coating

Graphene is a carbon atom layer, and it is the strongest, lightest and most conductive material on earth; so far. Scientists are constantly working on graphene coatings and it is very likely that in the future also grpahene conductive coatings exist. However, the research is not yet far enough to bring the launch the coatings on the market. One of the first graphene conductive coating manufacturers was the University of Manchester, where graphene’s potential in coatings was first discovered.