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Keeping in touch: the technology and applications of tactile coatings

SpecialChem / Jan 17, 2007

Our main reasons for applying surface coatings are to protect substrates under a range of different circumstances and/or to change their appearance. But in a number of markets, 'tactile' coatings are used, whose physical texture, film thickness or surface feel is an essential part of the performance requirements. This definition of tactile coatings intentionally excludes both functional lotus-effect textures and those simple 'textured' coatings in which the primary reason for adding polymer beads, hammer-effect silicones or other materials is to modify the visual appearance of the coating and the physical texture is secondary. Most tactile coatings are either soft-feel paints or high film thickness tactile inks; these appear to be completely separate application areas and technologies, but there are some overlaps which make it interesting to consider the two together. Soft-feel coatings were developed in the 1990s to provided improved appearance and functional properties in vehicle interiors, for example on consoles, interior handles and steering wheels.

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