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Fire Protection Coatings for Composites and Plastics

SpecialChem – Mar 8, 2021

An Interview with Ari Hokkanen, Founder - Finnester Coatings Oy

Fire Protection Coatings for Composites and PlasticsFinnester Coatings is a pioneer in developing high-quality specialist coatings, based on innovative, cutting-edge technologies, to solve problems encountered in different industry sectors, such as:

  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Infrastructure, and
  • Energy

Their recent developments include RED, providing composite manufacturers with a new route to achieving excellent fire protection performance without interfering with the composite production process.

Let us hear directly from Ari Hokkanen, Founder – Finnester Coatings, to understand more about Finnester RED, an innovative fire protection coating technology for composites & plastics.

#1 What is Finnester RED?

AH: Finnester RED is our brand of specialist fire and thermal protection coatings for composites and plastics. It currently comprises of two product families:

  • Our innovative hybridRED range of ceramification coatings, and
  • Our pureRED polyester-based products (applied as either gel coats or finishing coatings).

Combining these two technologies protects surfaces from fire and temperatures above 1000°C. hybridRED, being predominantly inorganic in nature, also provides excellent outdoor weathering resistance, and is available in a full range of RAL colors. Watch the video to see how RED works.

#2 How is RED revolutionizing the world of fire and thermal protection for composites and plastics?

AH: RED enables composite manufacturers to use standard materials (such as epoxy, polyester, glass- and carbon-fiber), with all their manufacturability and structural performance benefits, for applications where fire and thermal protection are required.

Traditionally composite formulators have had to use highly-filled systems or special resins (e.g. phenolics or polyfurfuryl alcohol-based resins) to achieve the fire performance requirements, leading to compromises on key properties, such as  strength, lightweight-character, and toxicity.

Now they can take their highest quality composite, easily coat these with the RED system and achieve the appropriate test results needed to meet the regulations. RED is also being used on thermoplastics, to boost fire and thermal performance.

#3 Which application areas are the most exciting now for RED?

AH: RED is already in commercial use to protect composites on marine vessels (IMO 2010 FTP Code) and for infrastructure products, such as bridges and utility poles (BS 476-7, EN 13501). We are constantly extending the levels RED can perform in and have found out that there are needs beyond the more traditional fire-requirement sectors.

RED is providing the solution to the fire challenge for:

  • New automotive energy systems (battery enclosures and hydrogen cylinders)
  • Thermoplastics (Additive Manufacturing, and for the rail sector/EN 45545-2)
  • Natural fiber composites, and
  • In the general construction and infrastructure markets (with ever-evolving regulatory requirements linked to fire).

In fact, we are gaining stable traction towards finding new areas for composites to perform, where it used to be impossible for example with 3D printing.

NorsePower FRP Bridge at  Ormskirk, UK Composite Utility Poles
NorsePower (L), FRP Bridge at Ormskirk, UK (C), Composite Utility Poles (R)

#4 How do you prove that RED works?

AH: We have our Viability Study service for current and prospective customers, and for end-users/asset holders. In return for customers providing their target requirements along with samples of their materials, we run a series of tests to confirm that RED will stick to the composite/plastic, perform against fire and/or high temperatures as intended, and meet all their requirements.

We have recently taken a major step forward to support this work by setting up our new fire testing laboratory in Finland. We can now run a range of different fire tests, including the extremely useful ISO 5660 Reaction-to-Fire test, using our own cone calorimeter. The data from this test is of fundamental importance for many fire regulations in the transport sector and can also be used to predict classifications to meet other requirements, such as EN 13501 for the construction industry.

Cone calorimeter at Finnester HQ
Cone calorimeter at Finnester HQ

Please contact Trevor Fielding for further details of RED and our Viability Study service on: trevor.fielding@finnester.fi

To learn more about RED, attend Finnester’s quarterly webinar series ‘Don’t fear the Fire!’. Attend the webinar series and discover how RED coating fireproofs your composites to pass necessary regulations as well as delivers a colorful stunning look. Know More Here.

Ari HokkanenAbout Ari Hokkanen

Ari Hokkanen is the Chief Technical Officer and Founder of Finnester. He followed his father into the world of polymer chemistry and graduated with M.Sc. Eng in Chemistry.

After working years at Neste Polyester (acquired by Ashland in 2001), Ari believed he could solve many problems in the composite industry by developing new types of coating products. Finnester Coatings was founded for this purpose. Finnester Coatings is a family business founded almost two decades ago by brothers, Ari and Mika Hokkanen.

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