Paints & Coatings

Protective, decorative, and functional coatings are important to many industries, including the industrial, architectural, automotive, semiconductor, optical, and medical markets. Exponent has expertise in all aspects of liquid paints, powder coatings, functional coatings, and thin films. Our scientists and engineers have studied organic and inorganic materials, manufacturing processes, and the use of coatings ranging from nanometer-scale thin films to paints and protective coatings hundreds of microns thick. We consult on issues of formulation, adhesion and physical properties, application processes, regulatory compliance, and durability. Our consulting expertise and laboratory facilities are used to analyze failures and defects in films, coatings, and paints.

Our combined experience in the areas of surface characterization, materials science, chemistry, mechanics, and process knowledge assists clients with questions related to surface preparation, material selection, micro/nanostructure, interfacial chemistry, interfacial roughness, thermal expansion, and other sources of stress, and environmental effects, including stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and environmentally assisted cracking. We perform laboratory tests based on industry standards such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), etc. to investigate coating failures. We also use various analytical methods such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) to evaluate coating quality and long-term performance of coatings in corrosive environments.

Paints and Protective Coatings

Our staff has addressed issues related to paints and coatings applied to concrete, cement floors, interior and exterior wood, case goods, wood furniture, architectural and industrial aluminum and steel, and a wide range of industrial, marine, and automotive substrates and products.

Our engineers have specified and evaluated surface preparation of steel and galvanized steel using chemical pretreatments, such as iron and zinc phosphatizing followed by non-chromate sealers in critical industrial applications. For aluminum surfaces, we consult on conventional hexavalent chromate and the newer non-chromate conversion (passivation) coatings and processes. In the architectural and construction industries, abrasive blasting and other mechanical methods of surface preparation that comply with SSPC, NACE, and ASTM standards are technologies with which we are familiar. This includes plastic media (bead) blasting (PMB) for paint removal and depainting.

Our expertise in liquid paint and coating technologies includes alkyd, acrylic, melamine, epoxy, single and two component polyurethane, CARC, vinyl, and other resins. Similarly, among powder coating technologies we cover epoxy, polyurethane, TGIC, polyester, nylon, and hybrid resin systems.

We address application methods, such as high volume low pressure (HVLP), airless, air-assisted spray guns, electrostatic spray, dip coating, solvent coating, vacuum-assist impregnation, and physical vapor deposition (PVD), chemical vapor deposition (CVD), and sol gel coating, as well as physical and chemical surface preparation methods.

For many years, our staff has consulted to the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and commercial clients on improving the efficiency of their painting operations. In this regard, we have developed expertise on paint spray booths, aerospace paint hangars, corrosion control facilities, manual and automatic spray guns, electrostatic bells and discs, coil coatings, electrodeposited (ED) coatings, flow coatings and more.

EPA and state environmental regulations have driven painting technologies for more than 25 years. We assist clients on regulatory compliance with surface coating Reasonably Available Control technology (RACT), Best Available Control Technology (BACT), and National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP ) regulations. In addition, we frequently compile pollution prevention (P2) strategies and make recommendations for reduction of hazardous waste.

Thin Films

Thin films are used in a variety of device technologies ranging from integrated circuits to medical devices. We have experience with a range of materials, from polymeric films to low-k glass thin films and nanoporous carbon-doped oxides (e.g. various Parylenes (R) and BCB to Black Diamond (R) and methylsisesquioxane (MSSQ). The coating material can be applied directly, or deposited from solid, liquid, or gas precursors. These films are often part of complex layered structures, where reliability is essential.

Exponent is often asked to assist our clients in solving difficult problems relating to device and thin-film failures. Exponent’s engineers apply a fundamental understanding of materials and processes to address concerns related to dielectric properties, environmental degradation, adhesion, residual or applied stresses, fracture toughness, fatigue, and other challenges related to successful integration and reliability of the device.

Coatings for Medical Devices

Protective and functional coatings are increasingly incorporated into medical devices, where they can provide benefits such as biocompatibility, passivation, and drug delivery. Exponent’s scientists and engineers assist clients, including large and small companies, with materials selection, accelerated testing, characterization, failure analysis, and intellectual property analysis.

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