Powder Coater Turns To Flashy Football Helmets

Oregon company sees sales soar with novelty paint applications


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The Oregonian newspaper reports that


Company president Chris Thom tells the Oregonian that his two companies -- painting company Hydro Graphics -- were both struggling because of a tough economy in 2009 when it delved into a technology called hydrocoating, where a thin film of a rubbery polymer called polyvinyl acetate is placed on a vat of 110-degree water. An object – a football helmet in this case – is dipped onto the floating sheet that adheres to the object


After working with several dozen high schools in the Oregon area, Thom approached Nike about partnering. When Thom showed the prototype for ashiny Oregon helmet -- dubbed "LiquidMetal" -- that eventuallu adorned the Ducks' Rose Bowl helmets, Nike's global creative director of football, Todd Van Horne, and others on the Nike design team loved the look.


"We're always testing and bringing in new innovations," Van Horne tells the Oregonian.


Nike ordered the helmets from Hydro Graphics -- without telling them what game is what for -- and then surprised them when they announced they would be worn during the Rose Bowl, the Oregonian reports.


Thom says that applying the chrome-look finish is a 12-step process that takes a minimum of seven days. With the Ducks' Rose Bowl helmets, they went through a chroming process twice with labor-intensive masking of the Duck wings to project them from the finish.


At the conclusion of the coating, the helmets are sealed, sanded, and finished with a clear substance designed specifically for football helmets.