Characterizing stress development and cracking of ceramic particulate coatings during drying

Annie Moorhead, Lorraine F. Francis

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During drying, liquid-applied particulate coatings develop stress and are consequently prone to stress-induced defects, such as cracking, curling, and delamination. In this work, the stress development and cracking of coatings, prepared from aqueous silica and zinc oxide particle suspensions, were characterized using cantilever beam deflection with simultaneous imaging of the coating surface. Drying uniformity was improved and lateral or edge-in drying was discouraged by using thin silicone walls around the perimeter of the cantilever. Coatings prepared from larger monodisperse silica particles (D50 ∼ 0.9 µm) dried uniformly but had a high critical cracking thickness (>150 µm) that prevented simultaneous study of stress development and cracking. Coatings prepared from smaller silica particles (D50 ∼ 0.3 µm) cracked readily at low thicknesses but exhibited edge-in drying that complicated the stress measurement data. This drying nonuniformity was connected to the potential for these small particles to accumulate at the coating surface during drying. Hence, the selection of particle size and density was critical to drying uniformity when characterizing stress development and cracking. Coatings prepared from suspensions of zinc oxide particles (D50 ∼ 0.4 µm) were well-suited for these studies, with uniform drying stress peaking at ∼1 MPa. Characteristic features in the stress development data above and below the critical cracking thickness (53 µm) were identified, demonstrating that cantilever beam deflection is a useful tool for studying the effectiveness of crack mitigation methods and the fundamentals of coating fracture during drying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2837-2848
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Ceramic Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of the American Ceramic Society published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Ceramic Society.


  • coatings
  • cracks/cracking
  • drying
  • stress

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