Prepainted Technology Continues to Advance
Appliances now feature bolder, more unique finishes thanks to prepainted metals.
Manufacturers have come a long way when it comes to offering colors and finishes on home appliances. Colors like white, black and bisque dominated the appliance landscape for decades because of the limited methods available to coat the metal substrate.
More recently, silver metallic coatings and faux stainless film laminates were introduced as an alternative to the strong consumer demand for stainless steel products. Those products also allowed appliance manufacturers to experience prepainted metal in a different color space. As we look at the latest kitchen and appliance design trends, the breadth of decorative coating offerings available today allow appliance manufacturers to continue to think differently about prepaint and its expanded use in appliance design.
The latest trends in higher-end kitchen design include color blocking and matte finishes, which combine blocks of colors, such as bold reds, blues or greens, with neutrals to achieve a more modern look, thanks in large part to the advances in prepainted metal.
In the prepainting process, the metal is painted first with a coil coating and then fabricated into the specific appliance. This process allows many new and different types of coatings to be applied. It also provides designers with much more freedom in their choice of final appearance, according to the National Coil Coating Association (NCCA). The NCCA is helping to drive education, innovation and the ongoing evolution of prepainted metals.
Key techniques in the coil coating process have helped to improve color consistency when running the highly pigmented, color sensitive products in combination with gloss finishes. A properly designed coil coating line is critical in maintaining the optimum surface properties and color consistency required by appliance manufacturers. Investments in specialized color management instrumentation along with processing expertise ensure consistency on a coil coating line.
New textures now common because of prepaint
Unique textures—such as wood grain finishes—are now possible for appliance manufacturers to consider. Prepainted metals provide designs that simulate various wood grain textures by using gravure printing. Gravure printing uses traditional polyester paint systems that can meet the current performance requirements of the appliance manufacturers.
Whether the desired look is a strong, open grain pattern such as oak or a smooth and even grain such as cherry these print designs can provide appliance designers with unique appearances. Similar to surface- critical colors, printing techniques with prepainted metals have also been fine-tuned over the years to ensure the color selection and print design can lend itself to consistency in production runs.
White remains the most purchased color because it never goes out of style. As a neutral staple, white allows for small work areas to look larger by blending in more easily with the overall space and adjusting to interior design changes. Soft grays and matte or flat finishes are alternative choices when designers are seeking a neutral color beyond white. Gray is becoming the new modern neutral providing classic elegance in combination with whites, blacks and browns.
Stainless steel remains a desired look in kitchen design (estimated at more than 30% of market share), especially when it comes to high-end kitchens. Manufacturers of stainless appliances have often been adding a fingerprint resistant clear to the surface using the coil coating process for quite some time. But adding a tinted clear coat, such as black, over the stainless steel can provide unique dimension. This trend is starting to gain interest especially as appliance manufacturers look to provide more appearance options to their stainless steel product lines.
Color options grow for laundry appliances
Laundry rooms have gone from an afterthought and hidden space to a key area for design and personal expression, thus expanding the need for wider appliance color options. As the demand for deep reds, intense blues and other vibrant colors continues, another coating development worth exploring is polychromatic coatings.
Imagine a color shifting from terra cotta to a copper brown or a deep black to a soft gray. These color changing coating systems can provide designers with a unique opportunity to blend the color within the cabinetry and countertops design, or simply become a complete standout and focal point to the room. These color shift coatings have been used by architects for dramatic building design so why not try it with laundry?
Prepaint, regardless of gloss or color, can bring a low-cost solution in appliance finishes now and into the future, with state of the art color consistency and durability that meets or exceeds most appliance specifications.
Appliance designers have benefited from prepaint advancements and are now able to offer more vibrant colors. The consumer demand for fresh styles and innovation will only increase. Fortunately, prepainted technology continues to stay onestep ahead of the appliance curve.