Before we can understand how ceramic coatings are made, we should list those properties that ceramics must have:
- They must be super glossy.
- They must bond with the vehicle’s clear coat.
- They must protect the vehicle’s finish.
- They must be hydrophobic (that is, they must repel water).
- They must be easy to clean.
- They must last a long time.
There is one more quality that ceramic products must have: They must harden on the vehicle’s finish when they are applied, but they must not harden in the bottle before application.
All of this is accomplished by carefully blending the components that make up the ceramic material. Generally, the components are:
- Resin –- The essential hardening ingredient
- Solvent — The component that keeps the product in liquid form.
- Additives –- Whatever other ingredients the manufacturer may choose to include.
These additives may enhance aroma, and color, or may help with adhesion.
Let’s look at those components individually.
The resin is the backbone ingredient in ceramic coatings. It is the ingredient that provides the hard protective shield. Resins are most commonly silicone-based polymers. The most commonly used resin is polydimethylsiloxanes. Since that is a ten-dollar word, we will refer to it as simply PDMS.
What is so great about PDMS?
It does a lot of things well when used in a ceramic coating product. Since it is clear, it is great for shine. It is UV stable, so it guards against UV ray damage (ultraviolet rays can cause the vehicle’s paint to fade). It has hydrophobic qualities. And it is non-flammable, inert, and non-toxic. PDMS is the foundational ingredient in ceramic coatings. But it can’t do its job unless it is blended with solvents.
Why? For one thing, PDMS doesn’t adhere well to vehicle finishes (or to plastics, wood, or bare metal, for that matter). The solvent promotes adhesion and helps the PDMS bond with the vehicle’s finish. The result is a semi-permanent protective film that can last for years.
With this careful blending of chemicals, the ceramic coating product begins to cure as soon as it comes out of the bottle and comes in contact with the air. Catalysts in the blend accelerate this curing process. Normally, the ceramic coating is dry to the touch after just a few hours, but full curing takes longer, up to a week. The exact nature of the chemical blend varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. At CoaterZ we use Feynlab ceramic products exclusively. Here is what Feynlab says about the chemical makeup of their ceramic products:
“Instead of relying on the traditional backbone of Silicon Dioxide (Si02) alone, we embrace a more complex approach combining Si02, Si3N4 (Silicon Nitride), and SiC (Silicon Carbide) to create a product line of coatings to solve all vehicle owner preferences and needs. This philosophy yields exceptionally thick coatings with extreme durability, strong chemical resistance, intense UV and heat protection, a high gloss finish, and an impressive hydrophobic surface, making vehicle maintenance super-fast and simple.”
The process of making ceramic coatings
From raw materials to finished products.
Ceramic coatings have revolutionized the way we protect the finishes of our cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats. Ceramic coatings are durable, they protect against environmental elements, and they can provide an eye-popping shine.
But have you ever wondered how these coatings are made?
Let’s start with the raw materials that are blended into modern ceramic coating products. The primary component is silicon dioxide (SiO2), which is derived from sand or quartz. Other ingredients may include solvents, additives, and proprietary components the actual blend will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Once the raw materials are in hand, they are precisely measured and blended until the manufacturer hits upon a combination that provides high levels of shine and protection. The heart of ceramic coatings lies in their nano-particle technology. The silicon dioxide particles are broken down to a nanoscale level, which enhances their ability to bond with surfaces and form a strong protective layer.
These tiny particles bond with the pores of the paint, creating a durable protective film that has strong hydrophobic properties.
Turning out a dependable product that does not vary from batch to batch requires rigid quality control. That means rigorously testing the ceramic formula over and over again to test for viscosity, curing time, adhesion strength, and shine.
Ceramic coatings can be applied via spray, wipe-on, or brush-on techniques. Manufacturers often provide detailed instructions on the application process they recommend. Once applied, the ceramic coating needs time to cure and bond with the surface. This curing process allows the nano-particles to form a robust protective layer that resists UV damage, saltwater, and contaminants.
After curing, the coated surfaces are inspected for quality. Any imperfections are corrected.
Manufacturers often customize ceramic coatings for specific applications, such as automotive, marine, or industrial use. They may also brand the product with their unique name and label.
The final step in the process is when professionals apply the product. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper application is crucial to achieve the desired results. The journey from raw materials to the finished ceramic coating is a fascinating blend of science and technology. These coatings represent a breakthrough in surface protection, providing long-lasting benefits and reducing maintenance needs.
Whether you’re looking to preserve the shine of your car’s paint or protect your boat’s gel coat, understanding the manufacturing process behind ceramic coatings can help you select the product that is right for you.