What is Nanoceramic Technology and Do You Really Need it?
If you’ve been around the automotive restyling industry long enough, chances are you’ve heard the word ‘nanoceramic’ around a few times. Whether it’s nanoceramic tint, ceramic coatings, nanoceramic windshield protection film - it feels like the term may be a little overused to say the least.
But are nanoceramic products actually better than the alternatives? Or is it just a gimmick used to sell more products to customers?
Well, we know a thing or two about nanoceramic technology here at ExoShield, so we’re here to break it all down for you!
A Brief History of Nanoceramic Technology
To truly understand nanoceramic technology, you have to start at the beginning. Well maybe not the VERY beginning, let’s fast forward to say..the 1980s when nanoceramics were first discovered. The concept for nanoceramic materials or particles is pretty simple - in fact, it’s all in the name!
Nanoceramic is just a combination of two words - nano (which means anything on the order of 100 nanometers in size - so basically very small) and ceramic. When you think of ceramics you may be thinking of clay pots or vases. While yes, this is one of the origins of the word ceramic, if you talk to any scientist they’ll tell you that a ceramic material is an “inorganic, non-metallic oxide, nitride, or carbide material”. It’s basically a term for a very wide range of materials used in many different industries and applications.
Like we mentioned, nanoceramics were really only first discovered in the 1980s. Fast forward several years and scientific discoveries later, and in 1998, nanoceramic window film technology was first patented. This nanoceramic technology and its heat-resistant properties were based on technology used in the space program. However, before 1998, in the 2000s, the first nanoceramics were formed using sol-gel. During chemical solution deposition, nanoparticles were mixed within a solution and a gel. It was during the 2000s that heat and pressure, within a sintering process and production methods. And the rest is history.
That’s a lot about nanoceramic technology, but what does it mean when something has a nanoceramic coating? Well the beauty of these nanoceramic particles is that they are very tiny, and some really smart people realized that you could suspend these particles within a wide variety of coating bases to create a layer of material with a variety of useful properties.
Benefits of Nanoceramic Technology
Now that we know that nanoceramics can refer to a wide range of different materials, it’s clear why they’ve become so popular in recent years.
Embedding nanoceramic particles for different purposes has allowed us to develop materials that look completely transparent, but have a wide range of properties.
For example, if you embed very tough, glass-like nanoceramic particles into the coating, you’ll end up with a coating surface that is very hard and resistant to scratches. Similarly, you can embed particles that add hydrophobicity, prevent UV damage, or prevent harmful reactions with chemicals.
While every coating and product is a little different, nanoceramic coatings or materials made with a nanoceramic outer layer are typically more durable and resistant to the elements than other coatings.
This isn't a full list, but some of the properties of nanoceramic coatings include things like preventing surface oxidation, preventing micro-marring and etching, adding super-hydrophobic properties, increased thermal resistance, anti-graffiti, improved surface gloss, and abrasion resistance.
Nanoceramic Coatings Are Used in Many Industries
We you may be here because you care about the use of nanoceramics in the automotive industry, it’s useful to know that the use of nanoceramics spans a wide range of applications. It’s certainly not just the auto industry that has an ongoing love affair with this tech.
One big example is Apple who uses nanoceramic coatings on the surface of their latest phones to improve scratch resistance. Other leading brands and companies in the aviation, automotive, and industrial sectors, have also jumped on the nanoceramic bandwagon in the last several years. They’ve even been increasingly used in cutting-edge biotextile applications like medical fabrics, bio-filtrations systems, and much more since they’ve been shown to be useful for antimicrobial purposes as well.
From biotextiles to kitchens, nanoceramic coatings have shone bright with these coatings creating antimicrobial, antireflective, dirt-repellent, scratch-resistant, and corrosion-resistant surfaces.
Nanoceramic in the Automotive Industry
Given their ability to improve properties like durability and overall longevity, it should come as no surprise that nanoceramic coatings have taken off in the automotive industry.Many of the products applied on the exterior of our cars are subject to a pretty harsh environment - whether it’s constant sun exposure, scratching from wiper blades, or sandblasting. A bit of a holy grail of the automotive appearance industry, nanoceramics have been highly praised as helping to push the boundaries of exterior protection or restyling products.
In the last decade, the use of ceramic coatings to improve the look of your vehicle’s paint has grown significantly in popularity. These coatings can be applied as a liquid to a vehicle’s paintwork and effectively bonds chemically and mechanically with the surface. It then seamlessly forms a glossy, long-lasting barrier that repels environmental contaminants, dirt, and rain.
These coatings have been growing in popularity since the early 2000s, and you can find them pretty much everywhere! There are also so many new coatings on the market every year that offer new properties and longevity benefits, it’s almost hard to keep up!
If you’ve been tinting your vehicle for many years now, it’s more than likely that in the early days you were only given one option for window tint. Original, or regular window tint is sometimes referred to as dyed tint, where the film is made by essentially dying polyester sheets to slightly different levels of darkness. Typically affordable, this tint will give you the dark windows you’re looking for, but will not do a whole lot to help with reducing the heat inside the vehicle.
Ceramic tint is probably the best tint technology on the market in 2023. Unlike dyed tint, ceramic tint typically has a layer of non-metallic ceramic nanoparticles to give you better clarity, higher reflection, better heat reduction and better overall durability than traditional tint. Although it’s more expensive, if you want something that will keep you cool AND last a long time, ceramic tint is a no-brainer.
Nanoceramic Windshield Protection Film
A newer product on the market, windshield protection film has been gaining popularity as more drivers are realizing how difficult, and more importantly expensive, it is to replace a modern windshield in 2023. Windshield protection film is essentially a thin film that is applied to the outside of your windshield to protect it from rock chips or other damage on the road.
One major challenge for any product that is applied to the windshield, is developing a material that is strong enough to withstand the elements, the road, and the wiper blades which are all attacking the surface.
To help improve durability, premium windshield protection film products like ExoShield are made with a nanoceramic exterior layer of the film, which makes the film resistant to scratches, prevents UV damage, and is resistant to chemical degradation. This technology has allowed manufacturers to make windshield films that actually last longer than a few months which has helped this product category grow significantly in the last 5 years.
Is 'Nanoceramic' Really Worth It?
The use of nanoceramic technology in the automotive industry is certainly widespread - and for good reason!
Although the word is certainly thrown around quite a bit, it turns out that it’s not actually a gimmick, and advancements in nanoceramic technology have actually fundamentally changed the game as far as protection and restyling products go.
So the next time you’re considering replacing your tint or getting your windshield protected, make sure to ask your installer about ceramic options!
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