Lacquering & Painting Composites

Lacquering & Painting Composites

The Application Of Lacquer & Paint To Composite Materials

Composite Materials have become synonymous with high-performance and cutting-edge technologies across various industries, from aerospace to automotive. Its remarkable strength-to-weight ratio and aesthetic appeal make it a favorite among designers and engineers. However, the raw appearance of composites may not always align with the desired aesthetics of a final product. This is where the art of lacquering and painting composites comes into play. At Armstrong, our engineers are experts in the intricate processes involved in transforming raw composite materials into eye catching, functional final parts.

Composites Parts
Armstrong Composites

Lacquering Composite Materials

Lacquering composite materials is a meticulous process that involves applying layers of clear protective coatings to enhance the material’s appearance, protect it from UV radiation and add a glossy finish. The steps involved in lacquering composites include:

  1. Surface Preparation: Before applying lacquer, the material surface needs to be meticulously cleaned and smoothed. This involves sanding down imperfections and applying a primer to ensure proper adhesion of the lacquer.

  2. Application of Clear Coat: Clear coats are specialized coatings designed to protect and enhance the appearance of carbon fiber. These coats are typically applied in multiple thin layers, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. This process creates a deep, glossy finish that showcases, for example, the unique weave pattern of  carbon fibre.

  3. Curing and Buffing: After applying the clear coat, the piece is cured at a specific temperature to harden the lacquer. Once cured, the surface is carefully buffed and polished to achieve a flawless, reflective finish.

Painting Composite Materials

Painting composite materials goes beyond enhancing the final product’s appearance; it opens up a world of design possibilities. While painting composite materials can be more complex than lacquering due to the additional colour and design elements, the results are often stunning. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Primer Application: Just like with lacquering, the first step involves applying a primer to ensure the paint adheres properly to the material surface. The primer also helps to create a uniform base color for the paint.

  2. Painting: After priming, the actual painting process begins. Some types of composite material’s intricate weave can pose a challenge, requiring a skilled hand to ensure the paint evenly covers the surface without obscuring the weave pattern. Multiple thin coats of paint are applied, with each coat allowed to dry before the next is added.

  3. Clear Coat: Once the desired color is achieved and the paint has dried, a clear protective coat is applied to seal in the paint and provide a glossy finish. This step also protects the paint from environmental elements and UV radiation.

  4. Finishing Touches: The painted carbon fiber piece is then cured, buffed, and polished to achieve a smooth and glossy appearance. This step requires attention to detail to achieve the desired level of perfection.

Composites Parts
Composites Parts

The lacquering and painting of various composite materials are intricate processes that elevate the material from its raw, industrial look to stunning, customized creations. Whether it’s the glossy finish of lacquering or the vibrancy of painted designs, these techniques allow composite materials to seamlessly blend into various design contexts while retaining its impressive mechanical properties.

As industries continue to push the boundaries of innovation and aesthetics, mastering the art of lacquering and painting composite materials remains a vital skill that Armstrong artisans, engineers and designers will continue to refine.