Discover Copper Online

Winter 1996

Tough, Bright, Beautiful Finishes

Locks from Schlage with the new "Ultima" finish have been subjected to 2,000 hours of salt spray without damage. Residential hardware coated with the vacuum-deposited finishes carry lifetime warranties against tarnishing and discoloration.

Advanced technology is resulting in new finishes for brass products that are brilliant and long lasting. Vendors are so confident of the durability of their new finishes, which add greatly to the appeal of brass, that they offer lifetime warranties.

Manufacturers offering new finishes are Schlage Lock Company, San Francisco, and seven divisions of Masco Corporation, Taylor, Michigan: Alsons Corporation, Hillsdale, Michigan; Aquaglass, Adamsville, Tennessee Baldwin Hardware Corporation, Reading, Pennsylvania; Computerized Security Systems, Costa Mesa, California; Delta Faucet Company, Indianapolis; Weiser Lock Company, Tucson, Arizona; and Thermador, a manufacturer of major kitchen appliances based in Los Angeles.

Schage Lock, a division of Ingersoll-Rand Company, has offered a durable vapor deposited finish on its highness residential locks for three years. Now renamed "Ultimo," it is applied in brass, silver or bronze colors to forged brass. According to a spokesperson, the new finish has been subjected to 2,000 hours each of salt spray (see photo) and ultraviolet testing without damage. It now carries a lifetime warranty. No details of the proprietary batch process are available.

The vacuum-deposition coating technology used by all the Masco divisions was developed by Vapor Technologies, Inc., Boulder, Colorado. This 100-employee operation was acquired by Masco two years ago. According to Vapor Tech CEO Michael Walsh, began developing Low Temperature Arc Vapor Deposition (LTAVD), which results in coatings it calls, "Brilliance," back in 1981. Vapor Tech uses LTAVD in a two-step process to apply coatings of semi-precious metals that are only molecules thick followed by a coating of bright colors. These multi-layer coating are applied to products of other companies, including many of Masco's divisions. Some notion of the toughness of the coatings can be gained from the fact that NASA had them applied to the outsides of its Space Shuttles, says Walsh.

Baldwin was the first Masco division to embrace this new technology. It acquired the equipment to coat its products from Leybold AG in Germany. Since Baldwin began five years ago, it has only offered the trademarked "The Lifetime Finish from Baldwin" on its own brass products, including front-door-lock plates (see cover). However, Baldwin will now apply the finish to the brass products of others, in effect competing with Vapor Tech. Recently, Baldwin expanded its coating capacity by a factor of three by utilizing the LTAVD process.

The other divisions of Masco use the Brilliance trademark to describe their coatings. David Sutton, Weiser Lock's director of marketing, says that its forged-brass locks are coated either "brass" or "chrome." Faucets coated by Delta with Brilliance carry a lifetime limited warranty against corrosion, pitting and discoloration. A Delta spokesperson claims that over 90 popular cleaning compounds have been applied to Brilliance-finished faucets without causing any damage. However, cleaners containing acids do attack the finish. Alsons has just begun coating its shower heads with Brilliance. Computerized Security Systems also has its products Brilliance coated.

Coating of copper and its alloys goes back to Neolithic craftsmen who enhanced or decorated bronze or brass with coatings that either didn't tarnish, like gold, or altered the color or added some other feature. And the physicist, Alessandro Volta, invented another popular coating process, plating, back in 1800. Its most encouraging that after millennia new coatings to enhance brass are still being created!

Alsons Co.: 517/1439-1411
Aquaglass: 901/1632-0911
Baldwin Hardware: 800/1566-1986
Computerized Security Systems: 714/1722-5400

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