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How to achieve easy-to-clean (E2C) surfaces

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Easy-to-clean surfaces allow us to improve the material properties. The combination of metallic, polymeric and ceramic materials allows the manufacture of a wide variety of products. However, not all materials can be made using the same quality materials or with the same features. It is necessary to adapt the material depending on the function that is going to perform. To do this, we start from a base material that already meets the product requirements and is modified using different technologies to achieve the desired functionality. In Today´s post, we see what Easy-to-clean surfaces consist of and in which applications can be beneficial.

What are the surfaces easy to clean?

The easy-to-clean surfaces are surfaces to which a treatment is applied to protect and facilitate the materials cleaning. This prevents dirt particles, food remains or pollution from adhering to the surface. One of the main advantages is that is not necessary to use aggressive cleaning agents.

These easy-to-clean surfaces facilitate cleaning tasks, protect against corrosion, reduce the frequency and the time required for the cleaning processes and prolong the useful life of the materials on which they are applied.

How can easy-to-clean surfaces be achieved?

Easy-to-clean surfaces can be achieved through different strategies or technologies, or even by combining both. We tell you about them deeply:

Covering

Easy-to-clean surfaces can be achieved through the use of coatings. The coverings can have superhydrophobic and/or lipophobic properties. Usually, they are applied through dip-coating or sprayed on the final piece. The key to this kind of improvement is achieving a good anchor, or adhesion, between the material and the material.

Often nanoparticles such as titanium dioxide (TiO2) or silicon oxide (SiO2). Also, polymers such as hexamethyl disiloxane (HMDSO) or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), although the possibilities are almost infinite. These coverings provide an easy cleaning effect, by creating a colourless film that acts as a barrier preventing dirt from adhering.

Additive

An alternative to using coatings in the incorporation of the additive. This is a really interesting technique for polymeric materials. The additives improve some of the polymer’s basic properties such as colour, hardness and mechanical resistance. Moreover, they can achieve new functionalities such as hydrophobicity. The percentage of the incorporation of the additive to the polymer is a really important aspect of avoiding unnecessary expenses and not harming the properties of the material.

Micro-structuring

Surface microstructure is a process by which the roughness and microscopic geometry of the surface of an object are modified to provide it with new properties. Micro-structuring creates periodic patterns on the surface that change completely the material´s properties. It can be achieved with the micro-structure a surface that repels water, avoids wear, or that the stains do not adhere.

Sectors of the application of the easy-to-clean surfaces.

These coverings can be applied in a sectors variety to improve the durability and facility of maintenance of different materials. Some of the sectors in which these coverings include:

Electrical appliances

The choice of surfaces that will be easy to clean is important both from an aesthetic and functional point of view. Thanks to these surfaces it is facilitated maintenance as well as conservation of aesthetic appearance.

Food Industry

Easy-to-clean surfaces are essential to guarantee food safety and meet hygiene standards. Working surfaces, chopping boards and equipment in commercial kitchens must be easy to clean and disinfect to prevent cross-contamination.

Hospitals and clinic laboratories

Easy-to-clean surfaces are incredibly useful in hospitals and clinic laboratories since these need to keep high hygiene standards and prevent the spread of infections. The choice of materials that facilitate cleaning and disinfection is essential to guarantee a safe hospital environment and contribute to medical attention quality.

Building:

On building facades, interior and exterior surfaces, to protect against dirty accumulation and improve resistance to inclement weather.

Public transport

Due to the great influx of passengers in public transport easy-to-clean surfaces are essential to keep clean, safe and healthy environments.

Marine sector

In ships and marine structures, to prevent and facilitate the cleaning of seaweed, shells or other marine organisms. These types of structures usually have difficult access so reducing maintenance times is key.

Textiles

To improve and facilitate the cleaning of stains and residues that could accumulate. In this sector in really important the durability since the cloth is usually subjected to frequent cleaning.

Examples of projects that we have carried out for easy-to-clean surfaces.

We explain some of the projects that we have carried out in ATRIA on easy-to-clean surfaces:

Improvement of the auto-cleaning properties and super-hydrophobicity in ABS pieces

In ATRIA we achieve decreasing the adherence of food stains to the material improving the cleaning of the interior of the device. For this, we study and select the best additive and covering. Lately, we carry out different tests and quality proofs to evaluate their resistance and confirm which one adapted better to the client´s needs.

Improvement of a polymer to prevent fouling due to blood stains in the food sector

The material to study became irreversible dirty upon contact with fish blood. Throughout the project, several real pieces were characterized and it was possible to determine the origin of the failure was in the material´s porosity. We reduced the material´s porosity and prototype pieces were manufactured. In the laboratory, cleaning and dirtying standardized tests were performed, which allowed us to corroborate that the material with less porosity did not represent an irreversible dirtying.

Coating to prevent paint cleaning on the hooks of a painting line

The objective of this project was to improve the systematic and expensive cleaning of hooks and holding tools in painting facilities. Thus, we studied the best coverings to avoid the adhesion of paint to metallic pieces and we carried out tests with pieces and paint.

Do you want to apply easy-to-clean surfaces in some of your projects? Contact us!

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