Applications and Uses

Our gauges and meters are precision instruments for quantitative non-destructive testing, inspection and measurement of coating and surface characteristics.

Our coating thickness gauges and gloss meters are used in a variety of settings for a range of purposes, with a user base ranging from industrial businesses to automotive professionals to enthusiasts. Being digital electronic gauges our coating thickness gauges are more accurate and feature packed than older style mechanical pull-off gauges that could only read on steel. While our coating thickness gauges measure depths of a variety of coatings on metal substrates, the most common application is measurement of thickness of applied paint. Hence the commonly used, but more narrow, term “paint thickness gauge” or more generically “paint gauge”.

Likewise, while our gloss meters can measure surface lustre of a variety of materials, a common application is measurement of reflectivity of paint (both automotive and non-automotive).… Read more

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Coating Thickness Measurement

Coating and paint thickness is important in substrate protection, cost, and aesthetic aspects. Coating thickness gauges enable quantitative precision measurement for inspection purposes.

What is coating thickness measurement?

Coating thickness measurement is the measurement of the thickness of a coating that has been applied to a substrate material. Our coating thickness gauges measure a variety of coating thicknesses on metal substrates. A common, but not the only application, is the measurement of the thickness of paint and consequently coating thickness gauges are often called paint thickness gauges (even though they can also measure thicknesses of coatings other than paint). Other common names used include paint depth gauge, paint gauge, paint meter, and coating gauge.

How can thicknesses of coatings be measured?… Read more Continue Reading

Gloss Measurement

Gloss is an important aesthetic characteristic that can be quantitavely measured. Gloss meters facilitate this quality control process.

What is gloss?

Gloss is defined by NIST as the perception by an observer of the shiny appearance of a surface.  It is a measure of the reflective characteristics of a surface and is important in visual appearance. More specifically, it is a measure of the level of specular reflection of a surface.  Lower gloss surfaces have a higher level of diffuse reflection.

What affects gloss level?

The finish and texture of a surface are significant factors in determining gloss level.  A smooth surface will have a higher gloss level than a textured or rough surface.  Material type is also relevant, as it can determine how much incident light is absorbed into a material versus being reflected. … Read more

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Vehicle Coatings

Research has estimated the automotive coatings market to be valued at $22 billion in 2015. Car, truck and other vehicle bodies are usually made of metal (typically steel, but increasingly also aluminium). These metals require coatings (almost exclusively paint) to provide corrosion protection but also for aesthetic purposes. After application, measurement and inspection of coatings is important for quality control purposes.

Multi-stage coating process

Before a car body is painted, the bare metal is typically prepared by dipping it into baths. The resulting corrosion protective layers comprise of a zinc phosphate conversion coating and a subsequent electrostatic deposition basecoat. The zinc phosphate coating is applied to the bare metal shell after it has been degreased. The resulting coating thickness is relatively thin and can typically be in the range of 5-15µm.… Read more

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International Standards

There are a variety of international standards that describe and apply to the taking of different types of measurements. These standards aim to standardise and set-out the techniques for undertaking such measurements, ensuring a consistent approach internationally and comparability.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the key international body publishing standards. National bodies often adopt these standards and publish them in their countries. In the UK the national body is is the British Standards Institution (BSI) and in the USA it is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

What standards apply to coating thickness measurement?

ISO 2178 – Non-magnetic coatings on magnetic substrates — Measurement of coating thickness — Magnetic method

ISO 2360 – Non-conductive coatings on nonmagnetic electrically conductive base metals — Measurement of coating thickness — Amplitude-sensitive eddy-current method

Our FN Z, FN Evo, FN Ext, and FN Max coating thickness gauges follow both of these standards.… Read more

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Video Demonstration

This video demonstration illustrates the features and ease of use of the FN Pro thickness gauge.

Here, we measure the paint thickness on a Ferrari 360. This car has an aluminium body and the gauge automatically senses this as a non-ferrous substrate and switches to eddy current measuring technology. No user intervention, menu option switching or probe changing is required (unlike many other gauges). The FN Pro is an integrated, automated gauge.

The consistency of the gauge is demonstrated by placing it on the same location 3 times in a row – with the gauge illustrating consistent readings to 1/1000 of a mm (1µm) each time.

The display flip feature allows easy reading on vertical panels and at different angles – at the touch of a button.… Read more

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Automotive Paint Inspection

Paint thickness gauges are an important tool in automotive paint inspection. Our FN Pro, FN Plus, FN Evo, FN CM, and 156 USB paint thickness gauges are suitable for this purpose and are used by vehicle manufacturers, car dealers, bodyshops, appraisers, car buyers, and at auctions.

Why use a paint thickness gauge for paint inspection?

A paint thickness gauge is able to non-destructively measure the thickness of the coating on the metal panels of a vehicle. This allows the paint thickness on a vehicle to be rapidly and easily assessed.

For vehicle manufacturers and bodyshops this can be an important quality control assessment. An overly thick layer of paint can indicate wastage of expensive materials while an overly thin layer could be insufficient for long-term sustainable substrate protection.… Read more

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Car Paint Detailing

Paint thickness gauges are an important tool in the paint inspection and correction process. Our FN Pro, FN Plus, FN Evo, FN CM, and 156 USB paint thickness gauges are suitable for this purpose and are used by professional detailers and paint correction specialists.

Why use a paint thickness gauge for detailing?

If defects such as scratches, swirls or other imperfections are to be removed from paint, an abrasive is typically used to remove the surface layer of paint or clear coat. This can be in the form of abrasive paper or an abrasive polishing compound, typically via a dual action or rotary machine polisher.

Professional machine polishing car paint

Before beginning the polishing process, it is important to assess and map the thickness of the paint across the areas to be polished.… Read more

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Construction Materials and Coatings

The construction industry uses a variety of materials. Metals are used in structural and finishing roles. The application of a protective or aesthetic coating to the metal will depend on material type, environmental exposure, and visibility. Inspection of any applied coatings is important from quality control, cost, and aesthetic perspectives.

Galvanised coatings

Galvanised steel is commonly used in construction elements which are exposed to the atmosphere and thus corrosive moisture. Some applications include utility pylons, structural towers, bridges, roofing, and warehouses. Galvanising consists of a corrosion protective zinc coating applied to a steel substrate to prevent rust when it is exposed to the elements. The coating provides cathodic and barrier type corrosion protection.

Steel silos with a galvanised coating

The thickness of the zinc coating applied to the steel depends on a number of factors.… Read more

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Marine Industry Inspection

The marine industry uses a range of materials in construction of vessels, both to their interiors and exteriors.

Certain segments, such as the yacht market, can have exacting specifications and customers with high expectations. Contracts may include specifications, for example of paint thickness on or gloss level of exterior or interior finishes. In light of this, quality inspection of work undertaken is of paramount importance from contractual, customer satisfaction, and reputational perspectives. The use of test equipment than can provide quantitative measurements of these specifications is important to assess work and provide evidence of results.

Quality inspection of surface finish is important in the marine industry
Coating thickness measurement

Coatings are applied to ship and boat interior and exterior surfaces for both protection and aesthetic purposes.… Read more

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Intumescent Paint Inspection

Intumescent paints applied to structural steel are important in terms fire protection. Such paints are designed to swell on exposure to heat, to expand to many times the original coating thickness. There are various standards that relate to intumescent paints including EN 13381-8 in respect of structural steel.

Irrespective of whether an intumescent paint is solvent based or water based, the thickness of both types can be measured by our coating thickness gauges.

Checking thickness of intumescent paint is important

The thickness of intumescent paint is important to its fire protection characteristics.

Consequently, from a safety perspective it is important to ensure that the coating is applied to the relevant thickness specifications and consistently across a surface. Application methods for intumescent paints can vary, including by brush, airless spray, or roller.… Read more

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Coating Thickness Gauge Handling

Our coating thickness gauges are high precision devices that take coating thickness measurements to 1/10,000 of a millimetre (display resolution of 0.1 micrometres). They are simple and quick to use. However, to ensure accurate and consistent readings the gauges should to be handled in a stable, consistent, and appropriate way.

On this page are some guidelines to guide in the appropriate way to hold these handheld devices when taking readings, to assist users in taking measurements.

Users who are unfailiar with using these devices are recommended to observe the guidelines below, and practice taking readings on test blocks and shims. The objective is to become proficient to the extent that reading to reading consistency is within tolerances.

The gauge probe must be held flat against the coating

The plastic surround of the gauge probe must be held flat and stable against the coating surface when a reading is being taken.… Read more

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