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One coat of paint yields two tones.

One coat of paint yields two tones

Getting trim stripes or a fancy two-tone effect on a car customarily requires separate coats of different painst and a masking technique to maintain sharp edges between the paints. That takes time, skill, and expensive labor. But two electrical engineers say they have now invented a way to get two tones from one coat of metallic paint.

James R. Melcher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and Stuart Inkpen of Instrumar, and electronic-sensor company in St. John's, Newfoundland, developed the technique while studying why the same batch of paint can yield different tones depending on how it's applied.

Metallic paints have tiny flakes of a aluminum, silver or other metals suspended in a liquid that includes polymeric binders, which hold the pigments and flakes in place, and solvents, which allow spraying or brushing. In spray-painting processes, the metal particles normally arrange horizintally on a surface, producing a uniform tone. But by subjecting specific areas of the wet paint to a small "corona current," Melcher and Inkpen have found that they can get the particles to align perpendicular to the surface. More pigment shows through and a darker tone results.

The researchers generate the corona current -- a stream of ionized air -- by placing a high-voltage electrode near a conducting surface such as a recently painted metal panel.
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Title Annotation:new painting technique
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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