FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Our team of technical specialists have spent some time looking at the questions asked most often by our customers, and have formulated the following answers to these questions.......
Q1. I have read about ZircoFlex® and would like a sample? - we ask customers to order samples via our online shop, noting that there are a number of sizes available to purchase.
Q2. What materials can you apply ceramic coatings to? - We apply our ceramic coating to most types of metal, including stainless steel, mild steel, cast iron, aluminium, titanium, inconel, nimonic, copper and brass. We do also have a ceramic coating that we can apply to carbon composite, fibre glass and some plastics. For frequently asked questions on composites (read more).
Q3. Are you able to apply ceramic coating to used parts? - We are happy to work with both new and used parts, even badly corroded parts.
Q4. Will I need to prepare the surface myself? - No....cleaning and surface preparation is an integral part of our process, and this includes grit blasting for all metal parts to remove rust, paint and other debris. Both new and used parts follow exactly the same process.
Q5. Do I need to protect those areas that I don't want coating? - No....our technicians use specialist materials to protect these surfaces. They will automatically protect flange surfaces, slip joints, bolt holes, etc. but if there are any other areas that you don't want coating it would be useful to identify these with a marker pen or alternatively send us a sketch.
Q6. What is the normal turnaround time? - Please discuss your requirements with us when you place your order. Our normal turnaround is 10 working days, though we are generally able to offer you an upgrade to any one of three further levels of service:
- An Express Service - here we guarantee to turn work around within our factory in just 5 working days. In this case we charge a 25% price premium over our Standard Service.
- A Premium Service - here we guarantee to turn work around within our factory in just 3 working days (so a very rapid 72 hour turnaround). In this case we charge a 50% price premium over our Standard Service.
- An Exclusive Performance White Service - here we guarantee to turn work around within our factory in just 1 day (so an incredible 24 hour turnaround). In this case we charge a 100% price premium over our Standard Service;
Q7. Are you Quality approved? - We are QA approved by Lloyds Register Quality Assurance to BS EN ISO 9001:2008.
Q8. Do you do one-off jobs? - One off jobs for individuals and companies are welcome. Please contact us to discuss.
Q9. How about overseas customers, do you have any local distributors? - We work for customers worldwide, both directly and through our increasing network of distributors.
Q10. How much does it cost? - Our ceramic coating solutions are competitively priced. Remember to factor in longevity, fitting time, performance and looks when considering our products. To get a price for your project please:
- Phone and discuss their project with one of our specialists. For most standard projects we are able to offer a final price by phone.
- Fax or e-mail us detailing your requirements (together with a photograph, sketch or drawing for any non-standard project). We normally respond within 24hrs.
- Visit us and discuss your requirements face-to-face.
Q12. What is the difference between Performance WhiteTM , Performance ColoursTM and the Primary RangeTM - These are all different formulations of our ceramic coating. Performance WhiteTM is our ultra high performance ceramic coating that is primarily aimed at motorsport. It is creamy white in colour and is slightly absorbent - so it can get dirty. Our Performance ColoursTM have the same levels of performance as Performance WhiteTM but are available in a choice of 14 colours. Their surface is sealed and is therefore less likely to stain. Our Primary RangeTM offers just a little less performance and is only available in solid black, though this is balanced by a lower price.
Q13. Can I pay by credit card, cheque or bank transfer? - We accept payment by all major credit cards. We do also accept payment by cheque, or bank transfer, though unless you have an account we would not start any work until we had received cleared funds in our account.
Q14. Can I open an account? - If you use our service on a regular basis you can apply for a customer account. We will fax you the relevant paperwork, which will include a request for trade references and company details. A credit reference agency will be used to assess your application.
Q15. Can you send me a brochure? - Our brochures are available in a printable format via our website.
Q16. Could you send me samples or photographs of your coatings? - We do not supply photographs, but there are lots of photos on our website. We do supply samples of our coatings, but only via our online shop. We make a small charge to cover the cost of these samples, though we refund this charge (for up to three samples) against the cost of your subsequent coating purchase.
Q17. Can I visit and bring my parts for coating? - Customers are welcome to visit us to drop off or collect their parts, seek face-to-face advice on a specific project, or simply come to take a look at our products. We have samples of all of our coatings on display to help customers choose the most appropriate finish for their project. Our Customer/Trade Counter opens weekdays from 8.30 to 5pm (4pm on a Friday).
Q18. Do you attend exhibitions? - We attend a number of exhibitions. We also attend various race meetings. Check our News Page or follow up on Facebook or Twitter for details. You can of course also visit us (see above) or purchase samples of our coating via our online shop.
Q19. Do you sub-contract coating work? - Due to the specialist nature of our work we do not sub-contract our work to others. Our coatings are unique and can only be offered by Zircotec.
Q20. What is plasma-spraying? - Zircotec's plasma-spray processing is a specialised high temperature industrial process that we developed and first used within the UK nuclear industry. We use an electric arc to produce high temperatures ~10,000oC (18,000oF) in a control gas. We use this heat to melt the coating material (even Zircotec's ceramic melts at these temperatures) and immediately spray this melt onto the component that is to be coated. We control the overall system so that when the spray hits the surface it solidifies and in effect "welds" itself to the surface (read more).
Q21. Is the Zircotec® ceramic coating available in a tin (e.g. as a paint)? - Our ceramic coating is a near pure solid ceramic material that is melted within our process at ~10,000oC (18,000oF) and directly hot sprayed onto the surface to be coated. When this molten ceramic hits the cold component surface it immediately solidifies and "welds" itself in place, producing a very firmly attached ceramic coating. Our ceramic coating must be applied by Zircotec. It is simply not a paint!
Q22. Can I apply the coating myself at home or in my own workshop? - Our coatings can only be applied using Zircotec highly specialist plant and equipment, and involve our own proprietary processes and materials. Our coatings can only be applied by Zircotec.
Q23. How thick is your ceramic coating? - Our coating has a thickness of ~0.3mm (.012"), i.e. more than ten times the normal thickness of a paint. Furthermore, it contains more than 99% by weight of ceramic (primarily Zirconia) and does not have the binders and solvents that are necessarily present in a paint.
Q24. How do you compare with "ceramic paints"? - Paints designed for use at high temperature will often have a ceramic filler content (up to 30%) to help extend the life of the paint and protect any pigments present. These paints are mostly used for aesthetics or for corrosion protection. They do offer some limited thermal barrier performance, though this performance is seriously compromised by the limited amount of ceramic present; the formulation of the ceramic used; and the thickness to which a paint can be applied. There are a number of these paints on the market alongside a number of companies that will apply such paints to customer parts, normally by dipping or spray painting. These products are sometimes marketed as "liquid ceramic" materials. They should not be confused with Zircotec's ceramic coatings. (read more).
Q25. Can anyone else do a coating similar to Zircotec? - No....all of our coatings are
our proprietary ThermoHold® formulation and are therefore only
available from Zircotec. There are a number of companies offering paint based products, but these are primarily intended for aesthetics and offer only minimal thermal barrier performance (see our response to Q25). These products are very different to Zircotec's coatings. There are also some companies offering what they call a "mag-zirc" or "plasma spray" coatings, but these materials and the processes involved are not the same as those used by Zircotec. They fail to match the thermal performance and longevity of Zircotec's coatings.
Q26. What parts of my exhaust systems can be ceramic coated by Zircotec? - We can apply our ceramic coatings to any part of your exhaust system including: exhaust manifolds and headers; exhaust pipes; turbochargers and their associated pipes: catalyst (cat) boxes; silencers; and tailpipes.
Q27. Do you coat turbochargers? - Yes....we coat a significant number of turbochargers together with their associated hot-side piping.
Q28. Will your ceramic coating help protect against corrosion? - Yes, our coating does help guard against corrosion, particularly in the case of our Performance ColoursTM range and Primary RangeTM.
Q29. Can you coat the inside of my exhaust? - Here at Zircotec we only apply our ceramic coating to the external surfaces. We are aware of some paint products that are applied internally. The conditions inside an exhaust manifold are quite extreme with gas at temperatures in excess of 1,000oC; pulsing gas flow of more than 20 m/sec; large pressure and temperature variations; significant vibration; and thermal stress. We are concerned that it is impossible to prepare the internal surfaces of a pipe or manifold sufficiently to receive a paint, and with such arduous operating conditions we fear that these products can easily become detached, causing serious damage to downstream components such as turbochargers and catalysts. Furthermore, these products narrow the flow channels and can restrict flow (even a thin paint can reduce the available flow area by up to 2%) giving rise to reduced engine performance. Our recommendation is that you limit any coating to just the external surfaces. You might consider polishing the internals to avoid any rough edges or corners, but our technical experts really do not advise putting any form of coating on the inside of an exhaust manifold or exhaust system.
Q30. Do I need to coat the inside of my manifold to prevent corrosion? - No.... since the exhaust gases within your manifold are strongly reducing (the opposite of oxidising) and this will protect the inside of your manifold from corrosion. Furthermore, no water condenses in this region due to the heat that is inevitably present in the exhaust gases. Internal corrosion does occur further down the exhaust (e.g. in silencer boxes) especially if the engine is run and stopped before these parts of the exhaust get hot, since under these conditions it is possible to have quite large quantities of water condensing from the exhaust gases and remaining in the silencer boxes, etc. This together with air entering from the open tail pipe leads to perfect conditions for internal corrosion, this being the primary reason for failed silencer boxes on cars that do low mileage but short journeys.
Q31. What temperature reduction can I expect with my coated exhaust.... - Our Performance RangeTM offers typical surface temperature reductions of 33%; so if your uncoated exhaust operates at say 600oC , then our ceramic coating will reduce this to just 400oC (so a massive 200oC reduction). This has a major impact on the amount of heat escaping into the engine compartment, and on the temperature of components close to the exhaust. Our ceramic coating has in fact been demonstrated to reduce general underbonnet temperatures by up to 50oC (122oF).
Q32. Will your ceramic exhaust coating improve performance - Engine performance is improved in a number of ways:
By reducing engine bay temperatures our coating can help reduce intake air temperature. A drop in intake air temperature of just 30oC can deliver a 6% increase in power (or increase engine efficiency leading to less fuel usage), and our coating has in fact been demonstrated to reduce underbonnet temperatures by up to 50oC (122oF).
By keeping the exhaust gases hot they flow more easily through the exhaust and this aids cylinder scavenging. This benefits all engine types, though the effect is potentially most pronounced for 2-stroke engines.
Keeping heat in the exhaust gas allows turbochargers to spool up more quickly making turbocharged engines more responsive.
Q33. What other parts of my car or bike can you apply you coatings to? - We are often asked to apply our ceramic coating to inlet manifolds and to inlet side piping, either for further performance gain or for aesthetics where customers want to match with their exhaust coating. The performance benefits are of course less than for an exhaust. We are also willing to coat other engine parts where there is a heat issue, or where the customer wants to achieve a colour match with their exhaust coating.
Q34. How does your ceramic coating compare with exhaust wrap - this has been independently examined for a major car magazine (read more). The findings show the performance to be similar when the exhaust wrap is new, though the wrap quickly deteriorates with use, both in terms of performance and appearance, and needs to be replaced on a regular basis. By comparison, the performance of our coating is unchanged and will continue to look good for a long time. Our coating is in effect a "fit and forget" solution.
Q35. How do I clean the coating? - you can clean the coating with just a damp cloth, using a light detergent if the coating is particularly dirty. You should not use abrasive or chemical cleaners. You should be aware that our Performance WhiteTM coating may become stained with use. This does not affect its performance. However, if aesthetics are important to you we strongly recommend choosing one of our Performance ColoursTM Range.
Q36. Is it applicable to classic cars? - Yes very much so. Our coatings offer an aesthetically pleasing finish, often similar in appearance to the original factory finish. The coatings reduce exhaust temperatures and engine compartment temperatures thereby helping to protect vulnerable components from heat, reducing the likelihood of fuel evaporation in carburettors, and improving reliability. Our coatings can compensate for the impact of modern fuels on classic car engines.
Q37. I have been told that I should not use exhaust wrap with my stainless steel manifold because it might corrode or even crack. Is this also true for your coating? - Here at Zircotec we have coated a significant number of stainless steel manifolds and exhaust parts without experiencing any problem. Our technical specialists confirm that stainless steel can corrode very quickly under certain conditions, though Zircotec's coatings serve to protect against this type of corrosion and cracking. Unprotected stainless steel can suffer very rapid intergranular corrosion in poorly controlled welds or where the material of construction is poor quality. There is also a little known phenomena called chloride stress corrosion cracking by which highly stressed parts, including those made of stainless steel (such as stainless steel exhaust manifolds) can undergo extremely rapid attack by chloride. This effect can be so pronounced that the stainless steel parts will appear to have just rotted away. The worry here is that the materials used in exhaust wrap can often contain chlorides, and these can be released when the exhaust wrap gets hot. Furthermore, many chemical cleaners and road contaminants that might get trapped in exhaust wrap do also contain chloride materials. In view of this, our technical specialists advise that exhaust wrap should not be used on stainless steel manifolds or exhaust systems.
Q38. How do I get my parts to you? - You can send parts to us using any standard courier service, or phone us and let us arrange this on your behalf. Alternatively you can bring your parts to us yourself.
Q39. How long will it last? - Our ceramic coatings have been tested to simulate 100,000 miles of road use, and are intended to be "fit and forget." We are sufficiently confident in the life of our ceramic coating that we offer a 3 year unlimited mileage guarantee for our Performance WhiteTM coating and all of our Performance ColoursTM range (reduced to 1 year for motorsport applications). Our Primary Black ™ has a 1 year unlimited mileage guarantee for road use and is not recommended for motorsport or track use.
Q40. Will the coating cause higher temperatures in my cylinder head? - No. Almost all of the heat that passes into the exhaust manifold is being carried away from the cylinder head by the hot exhaust gas. It is this hot gas that heats the exhaust manifold and exhaust system. Coating the manifold simply reduces the amount of heat escaping from the manifold and exhaust system, so more heat stays in the exhaust gas and this heat is transferred further along the exhaust system (so even further away from the cylinder head).