A while back, we wrote about scratch-resistant sensors and their current state. We discussed a few current applications and what the future may hold. Then we realized that there’s so much more to talk about.
We’re going to dig a little deeper into just how this amazing process is possible and explore some exciting applications on the horizon.
A simple process
The easiest (and most immediate) way of making sensors scratch resistant is actually pretty simple:
A scratch-resistant coating, like the ProTEK® PSR-R material demonstrates below, is a simple solvent that yields tremendous results. Once the coating is applied (to a plastic substrate in this case), we activate it by exposing it to UV light and voila! We have an ultra-durable, scratch and chemical-resistant coating. Here it is in action:
The video demonstrates that not only is this coating resistant to extremely abrasive materials like steel wool, but it's also resistant to harsh chemicals like acetone and isopropanol. These are two highly valuable characteristics in any manufacturing material.
To the substrate and beyond
The most basic applications of this kind of coating are on everyday items like industrial safety glasses, face shield, high-end sun and eyeglasses, or extremely durable screen protectors for electronics.
Another exciting suite of applications for this coating comes in the form of 3D printing. 3D printed objects are no longer just for models and mockups. As the variety of 3D-printable materials continues to grow, we’re able to 3D-print anything from drones to guitars to artificial reefs. These sorts of objects are exposed to all sorts of conditions and a coating like the ProTEK® PSR-R material is an ideal solution.
What’s incredible are the new capabilities this coating affords these substrates. Any sort of plastic, whether it's on an airplane, an automobile, a solar panel, or a personal electronic device, can be quickly and easily made impervious to scratches and abrasions. When you factor in that this type of coating lets in 100 percent of light, any coated plastic interface exposed to any condition will now be more resilient and last significantly longer.
A flexible future
What gets us really excited about this type of coating and scratch-resistant sensor is their likely role in flexible hybrid electronics. Several months ago, the Department of Defense bestowed a $75 million award upon the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of companies, universities, governments, and organizations dedicated to researching and developing the hybrid electronics. We’re very excited to be a part of this group and look forward to exploring how these scratch-resistant coatings can be applied to sensors and can help further the mission.
The sky’s the limit
What’s often so intriguing about these sorts of innovations is how many applications we haven’t even thought of yet. We know this is going to play a big role in flexible sensors, hybrid tech, and even simple substrate manufacturing.
What the future holds mostly remains unseen. But we’re betting “scratch-resistant” will have a very significant impact.