EonCoat vs. Polymeric Coatings – The Good and the Bad

For this comparison we’ve lumped all polymeric coatings together. Many are going to say that there is a huge difference between epoxies, polyesters, vinyl esters, polyurethanes and polyureas. And they are right. But all of them are polymers and as such they are more alike than different. The analogy is that there are many breeds of dogs, but they are still all dogs and thus very different as compared to cats.

EonCoat is the first product in a fundamentally different type of coating technology – self fired ceramics.

No doubt there will be other self-fired ceramics to come and it is likely that this technology will substantially replace polymeric coatings because of better substrate protection, longer life and lower environmental impact.

But polymers will never go away completely because there are some things polymers can do that self-fired ceramics cannot. Some examples are:

  • Polymers can attain a very high gloss that gives the high shine we all like on our cars. Self-fired ceramics cannot achieve this.
  • Polymers can stretch, sometimes as much as twice their own length. This is called ductility. Self-fired ceramics cannot ever be as ductile, though EonCoat is generally more ductile than most of the substrates it is applied to.

Bond strength isn’t a factor with EonCoat since the alloyed layer becomes part of the substrate.

Polymers often have very high bond strength compared to self-fired ceramics which are around 400 psi. This is needed because polymers protect surfaces by bonding to them mechanically. To offer good protection that bond must be very tight.

At first glance it would appear that since the ceramic layer will pull off at 400 psi, that polymers would be preferred. But EonCoat protects a metal surface by alloying it with a chemical reaction. The ceramic layer which sits atop the EonCoat alloyed layer is only there for appearance and protection of the alloyed layer. Although the ceramic layer will pull off at around 400 psi, the alloyed layer does not pull off because it cannot. It is part of the substrate. The alloyed layer is what provides corrosion protection.

Polymers are organic and will age. EonCoat is inorganic and won’t change over time like polymers do.

The main limitation of polymers is that they are all organic, meaning they contain carbon atoms, the stuff of life. Self-fired ceramics are inorganic. Polymers, like living things, age and weather relatively quickly. Inorganic things do not age rapidly. The rocks in your yard, because they are inorganic, will look pretty much the same 100 years from now. You and I will not. So EonCoat and self-fired ceramics will last much longer when compared to the polymers of today.

The greatest strength of EonCoat compared to all polymers is corrosion protection.

The alloyed layer created by the chemical reaction with steel is an insoluble iron phosphate. Iron phosphate conversion coatings are known to slow the corrosion rate of steel by a factor of 10,000 to 1 at the exact location of the iron phosphate crystal. But iron phosphate conversion coatings are crystalline and thus porous. The magnesium iron phosphate layer created by the chemical reaction between EonCoat and the substrate is amorphous – and thus non porous.

Other inherent weaknesses of polymers relative to EonCoat self-fired ceramics include re-coating, cure rate, abrasion resistance, durability and flammability.

  • Polymers don’t tend to bond to themselves in the cured state, so re-coating is often a problem. EonCoat chemically bonds to itself, whether cured or not, so there is no limit to the re-coat window. This makes repair of damaged coatings much easier with self-fired ceramics.
  • Most polymers also cure slowly which means return to service is generally long. There are a few that cure rapidly, but none cure as rapidly as EonCoat, which is dry to the touch in five minutes and ready to go into service in 2 hours.
  • Self-fired ceramics are typically more abrasion resistant than polymers (yes, some floor epoxies are as abrasion resistant as EonCoat). Most polymer coatings used for walls and other substrates scuff when something bumps against them. EonCoat is hard, abrasion resistant and stands up to tougher treatment than most polymers will take.
  • Self-fired ceramics are also flame barriers where all polymers will actually burn. Sometimes additives are put into polymers to reduce their flammability. Regrettably many of the additives are carcinogens and most will ultimately be banned.

EonCoat is hands-down better for the environment: Needs less energy to produce it, doesn’t have VOCs, and does not have hazardous chemical properties that can be harmful to people.

The environmental comparison between Polymers and EonCoat is striking. Polymeric coatings take a fair amount of energy to produce. Generally a gallon of polymer paint represents about 30 lbs. of Greenhouse gas emissions where a gallon of EonCoat is less than 3 lbs. Polymeric coatings also generally use volatile organic compounds to keep the components from reacting with each other in the can. These VOC’s are then released into the environment when polymer coatings are applied. EonCoat is applied in a two component spray and neither component contains any VOC’s.

And finally the hazardous chemicals found in many polymers contrast sharply with the contents of EonCoat. Many polymer coatings contain long chain molecules which have been found hazardous to human health in so many ways. Many of the components in polymer paints are there to provide properties that polymers do not naturally provide, like corrosion or flame resistance. And many of these additives have been determined to be hazardous and have been banned. Lead in paint was banned many years ago. More recently it has been Chromium and Zinc that have been identified as harmful. Conversely, the components in EonCoat are all things you find in either your multi-vitamin or your sports drink. So you don’t need to worry about painting with EonCoat around people, even mothers and small children.