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19-07-2018 | Manufacturing | News | Article

Nanocoating for Anti-Fingerprint Surfaces

Nadine Winkelmann

Greasy streaks and traces on stainless steel and metal surfaces are not only unsightly but also attack the surface. A research project at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems IMWS therefore has plans to develop a highly effective nanocoating to avoid fingerprints.

Components and veneers for interiors found, for example, in cars, ship cabins or the home should not only be functional, but also look modern and elegant. Yet often fingerprints tarnish the appearance. The research project of the Fraunhofer IMWS in cooperation with FEW Chemicals GmbH in Wolfen, Germany, is aiming is to develop an industrial-friendly hybrid sol-gel nanocoating with anti-fingerprint properties for steel and other metal surfaces. 

During the research project, which ends late 2020 and is implemented as part of the High Performance Center for Chemical and Biosystems Engineering, the experts intend to modify the chemical composition of various coating systems to impart an anti-reflective effect and self-cleaning properties to stainless steel surfaces. To achieve this, the surface energies and the 3D surface topologies of the layers of coating must be optimally matched. In addition to being anti-adhesive and capable of masking fingerprints through anti-reflection treatment and adapted refractive indices, the coating to be developed should be abrasion-resistant, largely colourless and transparent, as well as be easily cleanable on coated surfaces or be self-cleaning. 

Rapid curing of coating

A sol-gel nanocoating with nanoparticles and microparticles is used, which can be sprayed on and cures rapidly at preferably a low temperature. The effect is to be achieved by combining the advantages of thin sol-gel coatings with specially adapted physical parameters such as superamphiphobicity, i.e. a repellent effect against polar and non-polar contaminants, an anti-reflective effect and various self-cleaning properties.

A competitive anti-fingerprint effect on stainless steel surfaces has huge market potential in optics, for example for optical filters, lenses, mirrors and laser optics or for glass, stainless steel and metallised plastic surfaces for household applications, as well as for industrial sectors such as electronics or cars.

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Background information for this content

02-06-2018 | Original Paper: Industrial and technological applications of sol–gel and hybrid materials | Issue 1/2018

Commercialization of sol–gel based transparent functional coatings

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