Soft focus on special effects
Paint that feels good? Paint that looks like stone? Paint that, literally, grips you? Today’s powder coatings are about more than looks and protection; they’re about differentiation. “It used to be all about the functionality of a product - for example, the speed of your laptop,” says John Ring, Director of Research & Development. “But, today, functionality is a given. So it’s looking at other ways to make products attractive.”
How about paint that both looks warm and feels silky? Our ‘soft touch’ powders – initially made for the IT market – caught the eye of Haidi Wang, Global Marketing Manager, Furniture. “I thought, why not furniture, it’s an industry where people are always touching - chairs, tables, arm-rests…” International homewares retailer, Ikea, immediately saw the appeal and launched their popular kitchen chair, Reidar, in five ‘soft touch’ colors.
The prototype chair, displayed in Ikea headquarters, became such a talking point that it prompted a call from the company’s ceramics department resulting in a new range of ‘soft touch’ flower-pots which will be produced this year in Vietnam and Germany for sale in Ikea stores worldwide.
We’re also working on coatings that create the illusion of natural materials. “It’s the converse of the bright and glittery look of our cities,” says Ring. “Ironically, with increased urbanisation, people feel a need to get back in touch with nature. We’ve created powders that can give the illusion of stone, terracotta or shell. And, because the powder is inherently more sustainable than liquid, it becomes more attractive.”
Special effects are not just about looking different; they can incorporate functionality, too. Our Galaxy Lava range, combines rugged good looks with a powerful tactile quality that is, literally, gripping. Incorporating recycled rubber and glass, the coating offers high anti-slip qualities that makes it ideal for use in hazardous, wet or muddy environments; for example, foot-boards on heavy-duty vehicles or ladders and hand-rails on construction sites.
“Plenty of industries can use it – automotive, construction, military, marine, oil,” says Steve Polanski, Automotive Market Manager, Americas. Plus, because of its high resistance to chipping and gouging, great interest has been shown from the automotive sector for parts such as bumpers and grille guards which, in our design-conscious age, need to look good and perform well. Both Chrysler and Ford are in the final stages of OEM testing. And the future? “Color!,” declares Polanski, “and we can achieve reflectivity by adding certain pigments.”