A PFAS-free future 11 June 2024

NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP is already in the process of planning for the potential ban by the European Chemical Agency on PFAS based on REACh, with the company using it as an opportunity to align its technical requirements on a global scale and to establish rigorous guidelines for the development of a PFAS-free range – helping it build a more global and rational product offer.

NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP designs, develops and manufactures patented waterborne coating solutions for metallic parts, such as fasteners, brake discs and chassis components – with its coatings mainly used to protect against corrosion and control the coefficient of friction in order to guarantee the reliability and longevity of assemblies.

With a worldwide network of more than 300 licensed applicators, the company’s cutting-edge GEOMET® zinc flake technology is employed by major OEMs in the automotive, truck, construction, agricultural and energy sectors.

What are PFAS?

PFAS, or poly- (or per-) fluoroalkyl substances, form a large group of over 10,000 fluorinated compounds renowned for their anti-adhesive, waterproof and heat resistant properties. Widely used since the 1950s, in a variety of industrial sectors and everyday products, PFAS are often referred to as ‘the forever chemicals’ and are now coming under increasing scrutiny due to their long-lasting presence in the environment and toxicity.

Regulatory situation

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is advocating a European ban on PFAS based on REACh, to come into force as early as 2027 for specific industrial segments. Meanwhile, in the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is actively examining PFAS and proposing regulations specifically targeting water contamination. Although a total ban is not expected in the USA, global supply chains will be impacted by the implementation of REACh regulations. Consequently, Asia and South America are also proactively preparing for the elimination of PFAS in order to safeguard and enhance their global production and import capabilities.

Will there be an impact on friction control?

NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP is determined to continuously work on the reduction or elimination of all substances that have a negative impact on the environment.

Apart from PTFE, a fluoropolymer currently classified as a ‘polymer of low concern’ by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the company does not use any other PFAS in its products. However, PTFE may be impacted by proposed restrictions.

The PTFE substance is specifically used in some lubricated coatings, which are applied to fasteners to control their friction coefficients. This makes assembly conditions more reliable and guarantees a safe joint throughout the service life of the final product.

NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP already provides PFAS free products including GEOMET® 321 (silver anticorrosion basecoat), GEOMET® 360 (brake disc anticorrosion basecoat), GEOMET® 430 (dark grey anticorrosion basecoat), and topcoats PLUS® M (silicate based, lubricated topcoat with friction coefficient µ 0.12-0.18) and non-lubricated topcoats PLUS®, PLUS® 10 and GEOKOTE® (organic topcoat with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance).

Environmentally friendly coatings

Driven by a deep commitment to evolution, sustainable practices, and environmental responsibility, NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP has always looked for innovative solutions to reduce its impact on the planet. In fact, as pioneers in the development of water-based zinc flake coatings, the company has always prioritised environmentally friendly alternatives. That’s why, in response to the growing awareness of the threat posed by PFAS, NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP has already initiated a transition to PFAS-free products.

Regardless of potential restrictions imposed by environmental authorities on PTFE, the company will offer a PFAS-free product generation. To achieve this ambitious goal, it has established a dedicated international task force – including R&D, environmental expertise and market insight. This transversal and international team ensures a comprehensive approach to the development process.

The research and the selection of alternatives to PTFE have focused on raw materials that comply with high environmental standards and are available worldwide to guarantee the uniqueness of formulations on all continents.

Beyond the sustainability, inherent to this project, NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP is seizing the opportunity to align its technical requirements on a global scale and to establish rigorous guidelines for the development of its PFAS-free range to build a more global and rational product offer, able to meet industry expectations but also to anticipate upcoming challenges.

Seamless transition

Identical performance will be maintained to ensure a consistent product experience when switching to this PFAS-free range. Notably, the PFAS-free alternative of NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP’s current coatings will satisfy the requirements of major OEMs (VW 01131, MBN 10544, GMW 3359, etc) and will have the same outstanding behaviour in loosening tests (including at high temperature), multi-tightening and high-speed tightening; as well as helping avoid stick slip and being compatible with various counterpart materials (eCoat, aluminium and steel).

The company will also be working closely with its network of licensees, parts manufacturers, and OEMs, to minimise the technological impact of this transition. Extensive testing under ‘real life’ industrial conditions will be carried out to guarantee their good applicability, under identical conditions, at licensees’ plants. This will help ensure a level of reliability comparable to the one of current products and also that all the test criteria defined in OEM specifications are met.

Support OEMs and global industry

As a leading supplier of zinc flake coating technology, NOF METAL COATINGS GROUP is fully aware of its responsibility to support the global fastener industry in addressing the potential challenges posed by a PFAS ban. The company’s forward-looking development approach positions it to offer PFAS-free products in the very near future.

In addition, the industrialisation process of its PFAS-free coatings will be initiated in close collaboration with fastener manufacturers and OEMs, as well as its partners in the supply chain.

For instance, sampling and testing at fastener manufacturers and approval processes at OEMs is already ongoing. 

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888

Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector – interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe. Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the brand is renowned.