When engineers are designing the latest and greatest vehicles, trucks, and other types of industrial equipment—or when fleet managers are charged with maintaining them—there’s a constant need to explore innovation in materials for both finished products and the manufacturing process.
For years, professionals have relied on traditional paint and powder coating to protect finished surfaces. While paint technology has come a long way, it simply will never have what it takes to provide the necessary protection for many types of automotive and commercial environments. Enter the world of polyurethane/polyurea hybrid protective coatings.
A BIT OF HISTORY
Polyurea coatings have been around since the late 1980s and, while the original products were simple and not quite technologically refined, they showed incredible promise as a new type of compound that could not only hold up against extreme conditions, but also provide users with several valuable benefits paint coatings could not.
Eventually, advances in polyurea coating development quickly had the material spread to different industries whose unique challenges called for new levels of protection—most notably the automotive industry. Soon enough, polyurea coatings were becoming a new standard for factory and aftermarket spray-on bedliner applications due to everyday work conditions and rough treatment of surfaces across the truck world.
As more industries learned about the compounds’ capabilities and overall strengths, companies found ways to apply them to fleet/industrial equipment, other types of vehicles, and a countless variety of other surfaces. From slip resistance, rust and corrosion resistance, impact resistance, chemical stain resistance, and UV protection, manufacturers and consumers across many industries started to realize the value polyureas provided.
CHANGING THE TRUCK WORLD
Everyone knows that a newly painted bed of a pickup truck, commercial utility, or other related vehicle doesn’t look the same after a few months of use. Pickup trucks are made to haul and most owners are rarely careful when loading and throwing items into them. Soon enough, deep scratches, dents, puncture holes, corrosion, rust, and other damage destroy truck beds.
Spray-in polyurea bedliners were—and still are—proven to be the best solution for truck owners looking to protect their vehicle. With many new trucks costing more than $50,000, owners are smart to protect their investment. And, with new light-weight metals like aluminum being used by major manufacturers in the truck market, there’s now an even greater need for a tough, durable spray-in polyurea bedliner. It’s no surprise that more than four million pickup trucks on the road use polyurethane/polyurea hybrid bedliners.
While regular consumers widely benefit from the protective material, the more than six million fleet vehicles across the country are finding that polyurea coatings are also helping to enhance vehicles and equipment by providing greater levels of protection and safety.
Pickup trucks, utility trucks, emergency, and SWAT vehicles are benefitting from unique textures that help provide exceptional grip in slippery and wet conditions—while other surfaces stand up easier to everything from rock chips, tree branches, and extreme weather to other harsh conditions that regularly damage a standard paint job. The result has been astounding. Companies and government entities are realizing a reduction in lost time, resources, and productivity—just from the use of protective coatings on surfaces.
Some of the more extreme examples of the material’s use outside of fleet vehicles include Alabama-based company, LINE-X, and its work with the United States Department of Defense’s Pentagon. The brand’s scientifically developed versions of the compound have been trusted to protect buildings of that magnitude from potential bomb blast—making its use on vehicles with mission-critical demands very attractive to fleet managers.
Even though standard polyurea coatings are the most widely available coating products in the world, companies such as LINE-X have taken the chemistry to the next level and developed new high-performance aliphatic and pure polyurea coatings for specialty applications for everything from automotive exteriors to commercial applications, such as amusement parks.
Aliphatic technology inhibits the UV degradation that plagues standard aromatic coatings. The result is a UV-stable coating that will not shift color, fade, lose gloss, or have changes in its physical properties due to prolonged sun exposure.
Additionally, the commercialization of pure polyureas is giving manufacturers more options for advanced protective coatings. Pure polyureas are 12 times stronger than paint or powder coat, and can resist more than 8,000 psi before breaking. Several pure polyureas also can expand up to 400 percent. This ensures they’re able to stand up to changing weather and temperatures in any environment.
Aliphatic and pure polyurea coatings, like those from LINE-X, are designed to provide extreme corrosion-, abrasion-, impact-, and UV-resistance far beyond traditional surface protection methods.
Outside of the automotive world, polyurethane/polyurea hybrid protective coatings and aliphatic polyurea coatings have been widely adopted by industrial manufacturers because of the product’s ability to provide a long lasting finish that’s durable and can stand up to years of wear and tear.
Commercial equipment manufacturers of everything from agricultural equipment, emergency equipment, trailers, utility bodies, service vans, tool boxes, and more are now using these products to protect their finished goods. Since many compounds can be color matched, they can be sprayed to match a brand’s unique style while still providing superior protection. The result has been a new level of product with enhanced features and a near-guarantee in impressive resilience.
Overall, the uses of polyurethane/polyurea hybrid protective coatings and aliphatic polyurea coatings are nearly endless and can provide valuable protection and safety. Major manufacturers have spent decades developing advanced protective coatings—including different scientifically complex versions of those coatings—to meet the continuously evolving needs of work truck fleets and vehicle enthusiasts to military and law enforcement. With more development, the sky is the limit on what can come next.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
LINE-X® is a global leader in protective coatings development and availability and is the only franchised network in North America specializing in the automotive aftermarket and wide-ranging protective coatings services. Find out more, visit www.linex.com.