Preserving a scratch-free, high gloss finish over a longer vehicle life has challenged the auto industry for decades. One problem is acid etch, degradation of the surface by acid rain in the environment, a major factor in the phenomenon more generally known as weathering; another is scratch resistance to abrasion from many sources, not least of which is the car wash. Unfortunately, any solution comes with trade-offs in paint chemistry. A scratch resistant coating was not as environmentally resistant, and vice-versa. And chemistries which offered the best combination were not water based, so applying them released solvent volatiles from paint departments.
All auto companies wanted a solution to this problem. Working with DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, PPG’s Development Group in Allison, PA, developed Ceramic Clearcoat technology. Ceramic Clearcoat uses nanotechnology to migrate silicon particles to the outer surface of the coating, creating a very thin, hard, glass-like surface. It sets a new standard for scratch resistance, at least three times better than that of any prior coatings, while maintaining excellent acid etch resistance, and with little capital expense or time required for conversion in production. The coating is sufficiently hard that new methods for testing it and for repairing it had to be developed. Ceramic Clearcoat should contribute to the preservation of a desirable high gloss for years under conditions of daily wear, even including washing of fleet vehicles.
PPG’s ceramic clearcoat now comes in two commercial versions: Ceramiclear, a two-component clearcoat, and Certech, a single component clearcoat. Both can be applied in current water-based paint departments without new paint lines or equipment. Ceramic Clearcoat is now being applied to Mercedes-Benz automobiles.