The Scoop on Smart Coatings


It’s possible you’ve heard of what many consider to be “the next big thing” in the coatings industry: smart coatings. Smart coatings are making quite a splash in the industry, with a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 50 percent and broad applications across automotive, marine, aerospace, military, construction, textiles, and electronics. So what makes a coating “smart”, exactly? Smart coatings are finishing materials that respond intelligently and adapt to various mechanical, electrical, thermal, and optical stimuli. These responses fit into a number of categories: self-healing, self-cleaning, corrosion sensing, antifouling, antimicrobial, thermochromic, electrochromic, photochromic, and self-dimming. We’ll look more closely at a few of these categories here.


When the coating is physically damaged, the self-healing intermediate layer physically repairs the damage autonomously, closing and sealing the gap and providing an active physical barrier. The adhesion between the primer and topcoat are preserved.


The super-hydrophobic coating creates a protective layer of air between a surface and the environment preventing water, dirt, and oil from adhering to the treated surface. These coatings are a real on-market product, but so far are mostly low-performance and not very long lasting.


Antimicrobial materials were first introduced about 10 years ago and have gained wide use as a finish capable of protecting an object from degradation due to bacteria, viruses, and mold. A handful of powder coating manufacturers offer this technology to a broad array of manufacturers, including hospital equipment, public transit, food handling, medical equipment, and playground structures.

Smart Protective Coatings

Anti-icing, anticorrosion, and anti-fouling fall under the category of “smart protective coatings”, since they each share a common purpose and functionality. For example, smart anti-icing coatings can reduce the amount of antifreeze used and therefore lower the amount of corrosion that traditional anti-icing treatments cause.

There are more examples of smart coatings, but not every smart coating is a winner – yet. In some cases, this is just because the technology is so far from being commercialized that it might take a decade to generate any revenues at all. Still, the above-mentioned classifications of smart coatings are already out there, some only in niche markets, but we can expect to see them grow exponentially.

For all your industrial painting, powder coating, and industrial finishing needs contact D & D Industrial Coatings. For more information on the benefits of industrial coating, call us today at 262-637-0686 or email us at