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The year ahead


electric vehicles

This Studebaker Model 17-B Electric Coup was one of four body styles Studebaker offered in a line of 1911 electric passenger cars. The company built 1,841 electric vehicles between 1902 and 1912.
Photo credit: Finishing products

Welcome to 2023! When I look back on the past year, I feel like so much has happened. Admittedly, perhaps compared to two years of dealing with COVID lockdowns, 2022 has looked particularly action-packed. Meanwhile, economic hardship and general uncertainty surrounding COVID have played a role in trends that have come to the forefront of manufacturing – from relocation efforts to guard against supply chain disasters at the increased adoption of automation solutions to alleviate labor shortages.

In just a few years, attitudes towards many things have changed. From major automotive OEM investments in electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing capacity to the growing need for infrastructure upgrades, the signs point to new opportunities for finishers.

In the January episode of Products FinishIn the On the Line podcast, Todd Luciano, Vice President of Finishing and Valve Carriers for Gardner Business Media, said, “At the end of the day, whatever your thoughts on electric vehicles, the reality is that they arrive. There is a huge tsunami of investment coming for electric vehicles. I heard that by the end of the decade, $1.4 trillion will be invested by OEMs, battery manufacturers, and suppliers of various components. Granted, there aren’t as many moving parts on an EV as there are on a traditional combustion engine, but there are still plenty of parts that need to be plated or coated – so there’s plenty of opportunity for finishers to serve this market. ”

When you consider all the excitement and innovation surrounding electric vehicles, it’s amazing to think that electric vehicles are anything but new. Some of the earliest automobile prototypes were electric, and inventors and engineers have toyed with the idea of ​​electric cars since the industry’s infancy. Like anything, innovation isn’t always about creating something new, but rather building on existing ideas. The unfolding of this work can sometimes trigger a giant step forward. We seem to be on the verge of such a giant leap.

As we begin the new year, I for one am excited to see where the manufacturing industries will take us and what opportunities will be in store for coaters and finishers. During the past year, PF told stories about trends in fields such as automotive, aerospace and medical. It’s no surprise that many trends in these areas revolve around electrification. In 2023, PF will continue to explore the work of finishers and suppliers in these areas. We will also continue to report on challenges facing the industry, of which there are many, including supply chain challenges, material costs and labor shortages. One obstacle that finishers feel particularly keenly are regulatory constraints.

PFAS materials – used in various coatings and often used as smoke suppressants in plating baths – have been subject to increasingly stringent EPA regulations and will continue to present challenges for coaters and finishers. Growing concerns about the health risks associated with hexavalent chromium are prompting a ban on the material’s use in metal finishing facilities in California, with critical discussions with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) scheduled for late January. Efforts to broker a compromise are being led by the Metal Finishers Association of California (MFACA) and the National Association for Surface Finishing (NASF) (see interview with MFACA Executive Director Bryan Leiker).

Luciano says, “The electroplating community has done a great job working with local and national government to communicate the industry’s value proposition for the markets they serve.

All this to say that exciting days are ahead for the refinishing industry. There are many challenges to overcome. Sometimes the right solution is just to stay the course, buckle up, and keep doing a great job. Other times it is necessary to look for new, creative ways to solve problems. These approaches can sometimes seem opposite – doing the work you know or trying to reinvent a process. Yet both are necessary, depending on the task at hand. Whatever the approach, I am convinced that the creative and hardworking people in this industry are up to the task. On behalf of Products FinishI wish you a happy new year.

Listen to a special retrospective episode of Products Finishing’s On the Line podcast offering a look back at some of the best interviews of 2022 and a discussion of the industry trends that will be at the forefront in 2023:


  • Advances in Automated Buffing, Polishing and Deburring

    As we enter the new millennium, it might be constructive to critique the many changes we are experiencing in the way we must do business to survive, grow and prosper in an ever-changing and expanding global marketplace.

  • Antimicrobial coatings: billions worth of insects

    Antimicrobial coatings are starting to make an even bigger entrance into American homes. More and more consumer goods manufacturers are offering “germ resistant” surfaces on many household items such as refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and other appliances and fixtures. A report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. indicates that the US antimicrobial coatings market alone is expected to reach $1 billion by 2015.

  • A new dawn for declining industrial applications

    A large coating facility comes online after extensive market research.



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