Updated: Mar 30, 2019
In today's society, many clients and detailers alike are wanting the best they can have. In reference to Ceramic (Si02), Titanium (Ti02), and or Epoxy Coatings. There are other variations of coatings that can be applied to a vehicles finish however this topic is to enlighten ones on the concern of “Static Electricity” or the static charge while applying a coating or the charge after application of a coating to a vehicles finish.
stat·ic e·lec·tric·i·tynouna stationary electric charge, typically produced by friction, that causes sparks or crackling or the attraction of dust or hair.
When a detailer or installer goes about prepping a vehicles finish for a coating, the surfaces need to be prep wiped to make sure they are clean of any oils or other forms of contamination. To do so, a solvent product is either sprayed to the panel and wiped, or a microfiber that has the solution on it, is then wiped along the panel to clean the surface and leave it coating ready.
Beware of Static Electricity Generated by Flowing Liquids
As the solvent based product (conductive) is wiped across the panel a electrical charge is produced causing static (triboelectric effect). The solvent products used have a mild to high conductivity, and as they are wiped across the panel, friction is created causing static to varying degrees.
Accumulation of Static Electric Charge
If electrostatically charged liquid (solvents) accumulates on a electrically insulated surface (ceramics, clear coats), the amount of charge gradually increases to a point where it can easily generate voltage (static cling, or shock).Aside from solvent static generation, one also needs to factor in the climate they are working in. A dry cold climate yields a higher static environment, whereas a humid environment will reduce static. When the air is humid, water molecules can collect on the surface of various materials. This can prevent the buildup of electrical charges. The reason has to do with the shape of the water molecule and its own electrical forces.
That being said, if there is a thunderstorm, the turbulence of the water drops, can create a high static charge of the droplets.
For a best case scenario, when applying a coating (some coatings are temperature dependent), a warm yet mild humid climate will yield the least amount of static charge. Some coating manufacturers demand IR (Infrared Radiation) lamp curing. The use of IR Lamps will NOT increase the static charge as they produce a higher temperature which transfers energy to a body with a lower temperature through electromagnetic radiation.
Forcing a neurally charged heat to a surface, by use of IR Lamps will speed a curing process of a coating and limit the time of static buildup in dry environments.
The less you can wipe a surface, the less static charge you will create. The more humid the environment, the less static charge will be generated and if static was built by wiping (triboelectric effect), the humidity will help neutralize the static buildup without having to introduce water to the surface to discharge.I hope this will have helped some of you dealing with static issues when coating a vehicle and shed some light onto why the static may be there and how to deal with it or prevent it. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me either through comments or PM.
Water can be your friend when trying to neutralize static and the simple flowing of water and not high pressures can eliminate many concerns.