Conductive coatings in general
Conductive coatings are electrically or thermally conductive substances of which purpose is to give or strengthen conductive properties on a surfaces. The applications of these coatings are usual on semi or non conductive substrates, such as plastic and glass, to make them conductive. Nevertheless, applying conductive coating for steel has also advantages, even though steel is a conductive material also without a coating. The coatings are also suitable for other metals, too. Conductive coatings are usually primers or undercoats which increase adhesion. They exist as liquid and powder coatings as well as chemical surface treatments. The latter are the most common applications for steel.
Protection with conductive coating for steel
Conductive paints and other coatings protect steel from many common hazards such as corrosion. Additionally, the coatings increase the durability of the surface making it more resistant to abrasion and weathering. Besides the protective properties, conductive coatings also increase the substrate’s conductivity and allow it to retain the conductivity in any circumstances. Last but not least they make steel aesthetically more appealing by giving it a gloss.
Electroplating stainless steel
Applications of conductive coatings for steel and other already conductive materials are usually applied in a chemical process such as electroplating. Electroplating refers to placing a layer of metal cathodically on another metal. Electroplating is possible yet rather difficult on (stainless) steel substrates. It is crucial that the surface is conductive when electroplating. Therefore, metals are suitable materials. However, plastics and other non conductive surfaces can be electroplated after they have been made conductive. For steel and most of the other metals this is not necessary due to their high conductivity. After electroplating the surface additionally receives another coating in most of the cases.
Conductive coatings in the electronics industry
Applying conductive coating for steel is common in industrial, especially electronic applications. Conductive coatings for metal are used for example in heating elements, flexible circuits, automotive circuits, credit cards, touche screen and many more applications.
Besides electroplating, screen printing is common conductive coating application method for smaller components. Screen printing is a common way of printing where a mesh transfers ink onto the substrate on areas which are not impermeable to the ink. Conductive coating for steel exists thus also in the form of ink especially for screen printing.
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