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SI-TUFF™ Performance SiC for Coatings, Polymers, 3D Printing

SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide is a new type of reinforcing additive for protective coatings. It toughens coatings, increases wear resistance, and extends their service lifetime. It may be used in liquid and powder coatings of all chemistries and application methods, and it is safe for food contact.

If used properly, SI-TUFF™ is expected to increase service lifetime by 20-50%. Some customers have improved performance by 70%. The primary benefit of SI-TUFF™ is improved scratch and abrasion resistance, which results in increased service lifetime. Secondary benefits include enhanced thermal conductivity and stability, impact resistance, and hardness. If you think you already have the toughest coating, it can almost always be made tougher with SI-TUFF™.

SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide is primarily used when the coatings formulator is challenged with improving wear resistance without compromising other critical properties. SI-TUFF™ is uniquely valuable for these applications because it improves wear resistance at low loading levels, such that it does not affect other properties including non-stick, friction, and flexibility. For example, it may be used in non-stick cookware and bakeware coatings without affecting release properties, or it may be used in piping coatings without decreasing flexibility and impact resistance.

The best way to get started is by reading the Applications Guide. The objectives of this guide are to:

  • Explain what SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide can do for you, as well as what it cannot do
  • Discuss the engineering behind why SI-TUFF™ works
  • Review the different product grades of SI-TUFF™ that are available
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls
  • Provide guidelines to enable successful design

Product Grades

  • Microfiber: SF-1, SF-1A, SF-1E,  SF-1B Microfiber Blend
  • Fiber: SF-7, SF-7B Fiber Blend

Food Contact Compliance Information

For technical/product and safety datasheets, please see the Resources Section.

TYPICALLY USED IN THESE APPLICATIONS:

3D Printing
Fiber Reinforced Plastics
Industrial Fluoropolymer Coatings
Non-Stick Cookware and Bakeware Coatings
Other Industrial Protective Coatings
Polymer Derived Ceramic Coatings
Protective Coatings

 

Getting Started

 

Congratulations on your decision to develop tougher, more wear resistant coating formulations. While the market for protective coatings increasingly demands increased durability and service lifetime, there have been no innovations in reinforcing additives in over a decade.

SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide is a new type of reinforcing additive that is changing the way coatings formulators think about coating reinforcement. It enables levels of performance not before possible, across many different industries and coatings applications. It is safe for food contact applications.

On your first trial, it is uncommon to achieve the expected 20-50% performance increase, and often no improvement is observed. Development work is required to optimize performance.

The best way to get started is by reading the Applications Guide. The objectives of this guide are to:

  • Explain what SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide can do for you, as well as what it cannot do
  • Discuss the engineering behind why SI-TUFF™ works
  • Review the different product grades of SI-TUFF™ that are available
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls
  • Provide guidelines to enable successful design

 

Technology: How it works

 

Before discussing specifics on how to use SI-TUFF™ for a given coatings application, it is important to understand the engineering behind why it works.

SI-TUFF™ is effective because of its unique combination of hardness, mechanical strength and high aspect ratio geometry. It works by forming an interlocking, reinforcing network in the coating. This reinforcement distributes stresses and abrasion forces into multiple, smaller force components over long ranges.  The end result is reduced localized coating wear and damage, and a longer service lifetime.

Other mineral additives are often used to reinforce coatings, including SiC particles. SiC particles are effective at improving wear resistance, however they do not provide long range force distribution. Compared to SI-TUFF™, the result is weaker reinforcement and greater localized forces and damage.

SI-TUFF™ offers higher performance at lower loading levels than other additives. Increasing additive loading levels typically affects other coating properties, and a trade-off must be made. SI-TUFF™ significantly improves wear resistance at low loading levels; in fact, it may be used in coatings applications that traditionally avoid mineral additives completely. For example, industrial bakeware coatings can be toughened without any loss of release properties.

The best way to get started is by reading the Applications Guide. The objectives of this guide are to:

  • Explain what SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide can do for you, as well as what it cannot do
  • Discuss the engineering behind why SI-TUFF™ works
  • Review the different product grades of SI-TUFF™ that are available
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls
  • Provide guidelines to enable successful design

TYPICALLY USED IN THESE APPLICATIONS:

 

Fiber VS Microfiber

 

Fiber and microfiber grades of SI-TUFF™ are both high purity β-SiC. Both have a high aspect ratio and function to distribute forces over long ranges to protect your coating. Which size will provide the best performance in your coating system depends on a number of factors and requires trial and error to optimize. Here are some guidelines to get you started:

  • When adding SI-TUFF™ to existing reinforcement, performance is typically best when the length of the fiber is similar to the diameter of existing mineral additives used.
    This helps “connect” the reinforcement together into a strong, interlocking network. Often, this means the larger fiber is advantageous; the length of SI-TUFF™ P-SF is similar to the diameter of commonly used SiC particles and other additives. You want to reinforce boulders with beams, not twigs.
    This is particularly important for single-layer coatings, where all additives are in the same layer. Multi-layer coatings can incorporate SI-TUFF™ into a separate layer to distribute forces across another reinforced layer below.
  • Smaller microfiber may provide better performance in thin coatings, where the larger sized fiber will be more disruptive to coating thickness and other properties. Microfiber works well in topcoats of multi-layer coating systems, where it is not as likely to interrupt other coating properties.

The figure below illustrates how coating performance can be impacted by reinforcement design, including SI-TUFF™ length. The expected result for the unoptimized system is no increase or minimal increase in wear resistance; the expected result for the optimized system is 20-50% increase in wear resistance.

coating_reinforcement_example_unoptimized.jpgUnoptimized Reinforcement System
SI-TUFF™ microfiber in primer layer with medium and larger size particles. Microfiber length is smaller than the particle diameter, which limits the ability to effectively distribute forces.

coating_reinforcement_example_optimized.jpgOptimized Reinforcement System
SI-TUFF™ fiber in the same primer layer. Fiber length is similar to particle diameter, which creates a strong, interlocking reinforcement where SI-TUFF™ distributes forces over long ranges. SI-TUFF™ microfiber added to the topcoat creates an additional level of reinforcement, further increasing wear resistance.

The best way to get started is by reading the Applications Guide. The objectives of this guide are to:

  • Explain what SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide can do for you, as well as what it cannot do
  • Discuss the engineering behind why SI-TUFF™ works
  • Review the different product grades of SI-TUFF™ that are available
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls
  • Provide guidelines to enable successful design

TYPICALLY USED IN THESE APPLICATIONS:

 

Functionalization

 

SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide is available in both amine and epoxy functionalized grades. Functionalization allows SI-TUFF™ fibers or microfibers to chemically lock into the polymer matrix. This can increase performance in compatible reactive coating systems, which are typically highly cross-linked systems.

These materials can interact in complex ways with your coating system. In incompatible coating systems, performance can decrease substantially. For this reason, it is recommended to begin evaluation with standard, non-functionalized grades of SI-TUFF™ (SF-1 microfiber, SF-7 fiber).  This limits the number of test variables, reduces evaluation costs, and increases chances for success.

Establishing the benefit first using non-functionalized grades of SI-TUFF™ will set up possibility for further optimization using functionalized grades. All coating systems that are compatible with functionalized grades will also see improved wear resistance using non-functionalized grades.

Typically, amine functionality provides best results in epoxy, Novolac, or other polymer systems that react with amines or use amine crosslinking agents. Epoxy functionality provides best results in urethane or other polymer systems that react with epoxies or use epoxy chemistry in the polymer backbone.

The best way to get started is by reading the Applications Guide. The objectives of this guide are to:

  • Explain what SI-TUFF™ Performance Silicon Carbide can do for you, as well as what it cannot do
  • Discuss the engineering behind why SI-TUFF™ works
  • Review the different product grades of SI-TUFF™ that are available
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls
  • Provide guidelines to enable successful design

TYPICALLY USED IN THESE APPLICATIONS:

 

Safety and handling

 

SI-TUFF™ is made from a fibrous form of single-crystal silicon carbide, known as “whiskers”.  From an OSHA and ECHA standpoint, they are classified as non-hazardous.  They have no extractables and are non-bioactive.  They are CFR-21 complient for indirect food contact applications. However, the dry materials are dusty.  Since they are in the respirable size range, they may be considered hazardous at chronic exposure levels. This only applies in dry powder form – if supplied wet such as in aqueous dispersion, SI-TUFF™ is non-respirable and non-hazardous.

If you work with SI-TUFF™ in dry powder form, you should take appropriate measures to ensure safety. Luckily, this is neither difficult nor expensive to do. If airborne concentrations exceed the recommended limits by ACGIH® TLV® (0.1 fibers/cc TWA, respirable fibers), a suitable respirator should be worn in accordance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR § 1910). Handle whiskers in a fashion whereby they do not become airborne during any stage of processing. It is recommended to also install suction equipment where dry powder transfer occurs.

While not classified by OSHA or NTP as a carcinogen, IARC classifies the family of ceramic fibers, which includes silicon carbide whiskers, as group 2B: possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B: “There is sufficient evidence for the carcinogenicity of ceramic fibers in experimental animals; no data were available on the carcinogenicity of ceramic fibers to humans”). ACGIH® has classified silicon carbide whiskers as A2: Suspected Human Carcinogen (“The carcinogen designation of A2; Suspected Human Carcinogen, is recommended for fibrous forms, based on inhalation experiments in several species showing lung and pleural carcinogenicity, and limited human data for lung cancer”).

For additional information, please refer to the appropriate SDS located on the Resources Page.