Maintaining the Fun at Amusement and Theme Parks with Protective Coatings

Amusement parks, theme parks, water parks,  and resorts are challenged to maintain the  attractive appearance of their facilities and equipment at a high level, often in extreme outdoor environments. Those
in warmer climates—which can also be highly corrosive—generally operate year-round. Ensuring the safety of park visitors is paramount. Amusement park rides, which are in constant motion and exposed to a wide range of weather conditions and chemicals (think acidic sodas, oily suntan lotions, and all those unknown ingredients in fair foods) are continually stressed. Proper inspection protocols are an important part of the solution for meeting stringent safety standards and controlling corrosion. NACE International, which refers to itself as “The Worldwide Corrosion Authority,” has developed a respected and globally recognized Coating Inspector Program and partners with the amusement parks and attractions industry to perform effective visual inspections that enable the identification, repair, and prevention of corrosion.

Paints and coatings are perhaps the first line of defense against corrosion on amusement and theme park rides and attractions. Painting and coating operations must, however, be simple and efficient while still providing a very high level of protection and high-quality aesthetics. “Amusement and theme park operators want paints and coatings that keep their rides and attractions in good condition with little need for cleaning and maintenance. Cleaning and maintenance that must be done should be easy to accomplish. They want the paint selection process to be simplified and to have painting problems minimized. Coatings should also meet health, safety, and environmental standards, and provide maximum value for their painting dollars,” said Dave Heflin, vice president of Global Industrial Liquid Coatings at Axalta Coating Systems.

Proper inspection protocols are an important part of the solution for meeting stringent safety standards and controlling corrosion.

That is not always easy, however. Amusement park rides are designed to catch the eye and are often painted in many different colors. Not only can different rides be constructed of different substrates, multiple substrates can be present within a single attraction. In many cases each substrate requires different types of coatings—and different preparation and application procedures. Water rides provide another level of challenge due to the constant exposure to wet and humid conditions. The task is even more difficult if the park is open all year. The entire painting process, including drying time, must be minimized as much as possible to ensure the fastest return-to-service.
Coatings manufacturers are tasked with finding solutions to these difficult challenges. Axalta’s approach is to offer paint systems—the proper combination of surface preparation, paint products, and application—designed for specific areas and substrates. “Each of the three elements plays an important role in achieving the highest and most economical performance of paints and finishes for theme parks. Choosing the right system for a given substrate and certain exposure conditions is crucial but not sufficient; proper surface preparation and application are equally relevant,” Heflin asserts. He adds that Axalta has developed guidance materials for amusement and theme park owners designed to help them choose the right system for each component of their rides and attractions.

Not only can different rides be constructed of different substrates, multiple substrates can be present within a single attraction.

The company offers durable coatings with exceptional quality and color retention in high gloss and matte finishes for this industry, according to Heflin. Product lines such as Imron Industrial Polyurethanes are designed to provide long-lasting protection with low environmental impact. According to Axalta, their Tufcote brand is easy to apply and delivers high-quality results with a very hard and durable finish for enhanced performance. “The wide range of products Axalta offers makes it possible to develop solutions for almost every conceivable application that exists in amusement and theme parks,” asserts Heflin. He also notes that as this industry evolves, the company will be prepared to offer next-generation solutions to meet its changing protection needs. “Axalta is continuously developing new and innovative high-performance coatings to better protect our customer’s products against heat, light, corrosion, abrasion, moisture, and chemical attack,” Heflin concludes.

CoatingsTech | Vol. 17, No. 3 | March 2020

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