Nanocoatings help machinery clean easier, last longer
It’s natural to think about routine maintenance of what’s under the hood and inside the cab of your machinery. But how often do you consider the value of a solid coat of paint? It’s worth more than you might think, particularly at resale time.
Luckily for your equipment, experts in the nanocoating industry say simple solutions can extend the life of paint and make it easier to clean.
"New farm equipment is so complicated; it’s virtually impossible to paint it back to factory standards," explains Jim Deardorff of Superior Coating Co. in Chillicothe, Mo. "If you do repaint it, the performance life of your repaint very rarely even comes close to what the factory puts on."
In fact, starting at the factory level is the best possible option, he adds.
Shield of protection. Nanoparticles are one-billionth of a meter in size. They can be placed inside a coating to lend characteristics such as hardness, or they can comprise the entire coating, says Ganesh Skandan, CEO of Somerset, N.J.-based NEI Corporation, which uses nanoparticles to develop coatings for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
One nanocoating product developed by NEI is the Nanomyte SR-100EC. (EC stands for easy clean.) The water-based solution is sprayed or painted onto a surface and then cured. The result is a see-through coat capable of deflecting debris.
"It needs to slip and not stick to the surface, just like Teflon," Skandan says.
In addition to making cleaning easy, nanocoatings can also fight the corrosion caused by weather and harsh field conditions, Deardorff notes.
So how can a farmer keep equipment from corroding after it leaves the factory? First, it’s important to understand the factors that cause corrosion, Deardorff says. Diesel fuel contains sulfur compounds that absorb and retain moisture, binding fertilizer particulate and other materials to the surface of machinery. Fertilizer salts as small as five parts per million can initiate rust. Those compounds and sunlight corrode paint.
Because waxing machinery from year to year traps particles within layers, Deardorff says, begin your nanocoating regimen by power washing equipment with 1 gal. of a soluble salt remover and hot water at 2,500 psi. This solution can prevent rust for up to 1,000 machine hours per application. The soluble salt remover scrubs off built-up herbicides and other grit at a cost of about $25 per gallon.
Next, spray on a nanocoating that blocks out ultraviolet light and keeps paint from fading. Deardorff distributes Permanon, though he notes that several other solutions are available on the market.
The nanocoating can be wiped on with a rag or applied with a spray gun. It locates damage points and fills them, and excess coating is washed away. One quart of coating material costs about $30 and covers a high-horsepower tractor, Deardorff says. Doing so once or twice per year should be sufficient.
A simple water test can be used to monitor nanocoating performance. When water beads up on the treated surface, the nanocoating is still working, Deardorff explains. When water sheets off that area, recoating is needed to maintain performance. Nanocoating essentially waterproofs paint, preventing moisture from reaching metal and producing rust.
"Using this system is like money in the bank at trade-in time, drawing interest," Deardorff explains.
Timing is important. Applying a nanocoating product is generally a two-day process, Deardorff says. On the first day, he rinses off the equipment and lets it dry. On the second day, he starts early and spends about two hours applying nanocoating to a piece of machinery.
"I think the future is a return to maintenance," Deardorff says.
While nanocoatings don’t last forever, Skandan says, it’s possible to envision a future in which a single solution goes farther by multitasking.
"Imagine if it was a coating that provided other functionality," Skandan explains. "Perhaps it provided corrosion resistance; perhaps it had self-healing. These technologies exist but not all in one single coating."
You can e-mail Nate Birt at firstname.lastname@example.org.