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New Coatings Bring Soft Touch to Hard Surfaces

New Coatings Bring Soft Touch to Hard Surfaces

New soft-touch coatings formulated with raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience LLC can be used in applications ranging from household appliances to medical devices to automobile interiors.

Graffiti-resistant technology is applied to soft-touch coatings, yielding a suntan lotion- and DEET- (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) resistant coating. DEET, a slightly yellow oil, is the most common active ingredient in insect repellant.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can apply them to handles for a soft, velvety feel. They provide an option to traditional coating and two-component molding in which a soft materials, usually elastomeric is overmolded on to a rigid thermoplastic.

"The applications for our soft-touch technologies are just as diverse as the products in today's marketplace," said Kathy Allen, technical manager-2K WB, Coatings, Adhesives and Specialties, Bayer MaterialScience, Pittsburgh.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC offers water-emulsible Bayhydur(R) polyisocyanates and Bayhydrol(R) polyurethane dispersions for the formulation of waterborne soft-touch coating systems. These coatings are used in numerous consumer products, such as the casings of laptop computers, telephones and MP3 players.

A major area of application for soft-touch coatings is the automotive industry. Soft-touch coatings offer many benefits, including low gloss levels and low reflectivity. They are very resistant to abrasion and scratching, and are available in a number of colors and effects. Automakers use them on consoles, steering wheels, arm rests and door trim among other components, providing aesthetic and haptic qualities.

The most recent achievement is resistance to suntan lotion and DEET. Automotive OEMs have stringent specifications tests regarding chemical resistance. Until now, the industry challenge has been that coatings would pass the chemical resistance tests, but would not be soft. Conversely, they would be soft, but fail because chemicals in the suntan lotion and DEET penetrated through the soft-touch coating and began to degrade the plastic underneath. However, Bayhydur(R) polyisocyanates and Bayhydrol(R) polyurethane dispersions pass the test, creasting a viable option for automotive OEMs, according to Bayer MaterialScience.

New formulations of soft-touch films are high-performance grades for short production processes that improve the quality of soft-touch coatings. The soft-touch surface is applied before the films are molded and back-injected with plastic, eliminating the need for a coating line or spray coating.

Time-consuming component drying required with conventional coatings is eliminated. Films can also be printed on the reverse side or otherwise decorated in an additional step. End products feature attractive surfaces that can be produced quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

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