What is Cerakote and why do we use it on the majority of our finishes? There are many different types of finishes that can be applied to a bicycle frame. Everything from wet paint to anodization to a bead blasted finish and to powder coating just to name a few of the most popular choices, but why is it that we choose to use Cerakote as our primary finish of choice time and time again? Allow us to explain what cerakote is and why we choose to use it.
Cerakote is a type of ceramic-based coating that is applied to various surfaces, including metals, plastics, and polymers. The purpose of applying Cerakote is to provide a protective and durable finish that enhances the appearance and performance of the coated object. The coating is known for its exceptional resistance to abrasion, corrosion, chemicals, and heat. It can withstand high temperatures and harsh environmental conditions, making it popular in industries where durability is crucial.
Cerakote is available in a wide range of colors and finishes, including matte, satin, and glossy. The coating is typically sprayed onto the surface and then cured in an oven, creating a hard and resilient finish. There are different types of Cerakote that cure at different temperatures. For the purposes of titanium bikes and carbon components, we use the H-Series of Cerakote.
One of the notable features of Cerakote is its ability to bond at a molecular level with the substrate, forming a protective barrier that is highly resistant to wear and tear. This makes it a preferred choice for applications that require both aesthetics and functionality, such as bicycles, where the coating proves to be highly resistant to damage from rock strikes, road debris, or other mishaps that can happen to a bicycle over the course of its life.
One of the common misconceptions when talking about Cerakote is that it is just another form of Powder Coating. In a certain sense it is. Both are sprayed onto the bike (in our case) and both are cured in an oven until they are hardened. That being said, there are a few main differences as it relates to composition, application method, and performance characteristics. Below, we list out some of those key differences:
- Cerakote: Cerakote is a ceramic-based coating that contains a unique blend of polymers, binders, and ceramic particles. It forms a thin, protective layer on the surface it is applied to.
- Powder coating: Powder coating consists of a mixture of pigments, resins, and additives. It is typically made of thermosetting polymers that melt and fuse together during the curing process.
- Application Method:
- Cerakote: Cerakote is typically applied through a spray gun, creating a thin and even coating on the surface. It requires a curing process, which involves baking the coated object in an oven to bond the ceramic particles and polymers.
- Powder coating: Powder coating is applied by electrostatically charging the powder particles and then spraying them onto the surface. The charged particles adhere to the object and form a dry, powder-like coating. The coated object is then cured by baking it in an oven, causing the powder particles to melt and fuse into a smooth, continuous coating.
- Performance Characteristics:
- Cerakote: Cerakote is known for its exceptional durability and resistance to abrasion, corrosion, chemicals, and heat. It can withstand high temperatures and harsh environmental conditions. Cerakote also offers a wide range of color options and finishes, allowing for customization.
- Powder coating: Powder coating is also durable and provides good resistance to scratches, corrosion, and chemicals. However, it may not be as heat-resistant as Cerakote. Powder coating is available in a wide range of colors and finishes as well.
Additionally, Cerakote is also more environmentally friendly than a standard paint application or even powder coat.
- Lower VOC Emissions: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that can be released into the air as paint or coatings dry. They contribute to air pollution and can have adverse effects on human health. Cerakote coatings typically have lower VOC emissions compared to many paints and powder coats, making them more environmentally friendly in this aspect.
- Reduced Waste: Cerakote is a thin, durable ceramic-based coating that adheres tightly to the surface it’s applied to. As a result, less material is wasted during the application process compared to conventional paint or powder coat, which often requires a thicker coating to achieve the desired protection and aesthetics.
- Non-Toxic Components: Cerakote coatings are designed to be non-toxic after curing, which means they won’t leach harmful chemicals into the environment after application.
- Energy Efficiency: Cerakote requires lower baking temperatures during the curing process compared to powder coating, which helps reduce energy consumption and associated environmental impacts.
Despite these advantages, it’s important to note that the environmental impact of any coating process depends on various factors, including the specific products used, the application methods, and the disposal practices employed. When comparing coating options, it’s essential to consider the entire life cycle of the product and its environmental footprint. In some cases, certain paints or powder coats may still be preferable depending on the application and specific environmental concerns.
Cerakote has excellent adhesion properties, meaning it can strongly bond to various substrates, including metals like titanium. Titanium’s surface, while relatively smooth, still provides enough surface roughness for the Cerakote to adhere effectively. Additionally, Titanium is already known for its outstanding corrosion resistance due to the formation of a protective oxide layer on its surface. Cerakote further enhances this corrosion resistance, providing an additional layer of protection against harsh environments, chemicals, and other corrosive elements. Lastly, Titanium can be prone to wear and scuffing in certain applications. The abrasion-resistant properties of Cerakote provide an added layer of protection against wear and tear, increasing the longevity of the titanium parts.
Based on these factors above, it is easy to see why we choose to use Cerakote as one of our main finishing choices. Cerakote is valued for its durability, versatility, and aesthetic appeal, making it a popular choice for individuals and industries seeking long-lasting, high-performance coatings. When you are investing so much into a work of art bicycle, you want to make sure that the finish you choose is going to last as long as the bike itself.