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Coated composite versus metal

16.02.2021

Can coated composite compete with metal as a structural material in outdoors?
Oh yes, and it already has. In fact, in many cases a coated composite is a better choice than steel, aluminum or any metal you can think of.
Here’s why

The traditional way is not always the best option. The impression of strong and durable metal might be a false notion. Let us tell you why composite coated with Finnester RED may be a better choice as a structural material than metal in at least seven different ways.

No corrosion

For manufacturing high power electricity transmission poles, metals usually are the go-to material. The metal may not rust today or tomorrow, but over time, it will. In tricky cases, corrosion can occur inside the structure and not be visible to the naked eye. Coated composite will not rust, ever. Even if moisture gets inside the part, it does not cause corrosion.

Metals are active surfaces that are susceptible to chemical attack eg. from moisture, salts and acids. This means rust and corrosion, which equals damage to the structure. Outdoor steel structures need regular monitoring and inspection by using both visual and specialist equipment. For example, terahertz techniques can be used to see what is going on inside the structures, underneath the possible painted surface. Monitoring and diagnostics might have to be done quite often. Needless to say, this is expensive.

Corroded metal structure in harsh weather conditions

Choose the conductivity with composites

Electrical equipment such as battery trays, holding electrical car batteries, you want the conductivity to spread a false discharge through the surface, rather than focus it under the passengers. On the other side, with power-line structures, full resistivity is required. They are not always behind fenced areas and non-conductive surfaces keep us and possible fauna safe from electrocution. 

The conductivity of coated composites can be varied through coating formulations. So the same composite can be used for several electrical requirements, with the right coating.

Lighter than metal

The Earth we live on has its own thresholds on how heavy structures can be constructed.  Composite engineering can be utilized to support big structures over clay or sandy foundations that otherwise would be unusable. For example, road bridges made from metal can be too heavy.

Another benefit of the lightweight composite structures is that they are easy, economical, and environmentally more friendly to transport. In the wilds of northern Norway for example, wooden telephone poles are being renewed as we speak. In cases of difficult terrain, the composite pole can be factory- coated and easily transported to the site by helicopter.

Style and color possibilities

RED coated composites

Our RED is both protective and decorative and can handle a lot of punishment from Mother Nature. Its colour can be almost anything, and the color remains stable without worrying the effects of, let’s say, UV light. Compared to some ordinary composite paints, our coating does not turn yellow. White stays white and glossy if desired. You can also choose the texture. For example, the Norsepower rotor sail we are about to present below has a golf ball-like textured finish.

All of this is made in one go with the last surfacing layer. Once the surface is painted, nothing else is needed. Job done. Easy, wouldn’t you say?
 

Easy to repair and recoat

Our coatings can last a lifetime. They may need light maintenance after 25 years but the chemistry and technology of RED is predictably durable. With steel, for example, it’s a different story. The hidden rusty part and maybe even more of the damaged steel structure would need to be dismantled and replaced for safety.

Let’s imagine that 26 years later the surface of the composite treated with our product shows signs of deterioration. No problem! Recoating and repair is inexpensive and simple. The structure may not even need to be removed for the process. And just like that, you have another 25 years of durability.
 

If it withstands the Nordic Seas, it can take anything

We assure you, your coated product will withstand the conditions you have planned for it.

The Finnish rotor sail company Norsepower modernized the hundred-year-old Flettner rotor technology to reduce the environmental impact of shipping. When the ship is at sea, the white top hat sail converts the headwind into thrust. Brilliant Finnish engineering know-how! 

RED coated Norsepower's Flettner rotor

The conditions on the deck of a ship can be extreme. Fluctuating temperatures, wind, rain, salt spray and even snow. The rotor sail has to withstand harsh weather, and it has to meet safety regulations, has to be fireproof and look good, too.

The sail can’t be made of metal or wood, it would be too heavy. It must be light enough for the ship to benefit from the energy recovered. Otherwise, the thrust will not cover the weight of the sail itself. Composite is the only option, but can it cope on the high seas? This is where we come in.

 

 

Plain composite is not durable enough, but our coating is a game-changer. After the coating protection the weather, temperature fluctuations and salt water are no problem at all.

The rotor sail on Viking Grace is coated with Finnester RED. The ship could sail around the world for a couple of decades in tough conditions, but the sail would still be in good shape and pure white. RED meets IMO Fire test procedures code parts 2 and 5

How can we prove this?

We are true to our word. Our product underwent an accelerated weathering test where coated composite was placed in a chamber that simulates humidity and temperature variations. In the Norsepower sail case we conducted an experiment that ran for over 5,000 hours that corresponds to 25 years in nature. The RED composite had no trouble withstanding the test conditions.

Why choose metal when you have the option to go with composite? We will make your structure safe and weather- protected, with an elegant finish.

Want to know more about what we do? Lets talk!

 


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The information contained in this publication is, to be best of our knowledge, true and accurate, but any recommendations or are without guarantee, since the conditions of use are beyond our control. Copyright 2021 © Finnester Coatings Oy.
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