Coatings are often exposed to extreme conditions. The combination of environmental effects, internal stress, and aging phenomena can lead to cracks in the coating. This can give rise to corrosion damage that must subsequently be repaired (e.g. on ships, wind turbines). This increases the maintenance work and hence the costs.
The Paint/Lacquer Technology experts at Fraunhofer IFAM are actively developing and testing self-healing coatings. One approach being pursued is the incorporation of micro-encapsulated corrosion inhibitors into a coating. If the coating becomes damaged, the microcapsules break open at that point. The healing agent is released and cures in the crack. This mechanism allows cracks to be repaired, so preventing crack propagation and serious corrosion damage to the underlying materials.