Nano technology - a tiny step too far?
One of the most important factors in ensuring that your new limestone floor or marble bathroom stays looking good is the sealer that is used to protect it. But how do you choose which one to best safeguard your investment?
A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Fila head office in Italy and spoke to the scientists in their technical department where they develop the Fila range of sealers for marble, limestone and other natural stones as well as for porcelain tiles. They also test the effectiveness of different types of sealer on different types of natural stone.
One particular aspect of their research intrigued me. The results were summed up in the February edition of the Tile and Stone Journal which Fila have kindly allowed me to reproduce here:
Nano products – a tiny step too far?
by Lisa Breakspear, Sales & Technical Director, Fila UK
For some time now, nanotech products have been a hot topic in the surface treatment industry. Nanotechnology is used generically to indicate manipulation of matter at an atomic or molecular level – in other words, really, really small. Units are measured in nanometres (nm), which are a billionth of a metre and, on average, 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of a hair! But do nanotech surface care products really deliver - or are they just the latest fad?
Despite their documented advantages, nanoparticles have triggered a series of debates, especially in terms of their impact to the environment and to public health. Research shows that their size enables them to access cells and tissues and, therefore, enter the bloodstream and the central nervous system. Engineered nanoparticles are also generally chemically-coated and this makes them potentially hazardous, especially for living beings.
There are other issues too. The inherently small size of nanoparticles makes them not only more mobile, but also chemically more reactive - and potentially more unstable and difficult to manipulate.
In contrast – and though still tiny - micrometric particles are 1000 times bigger and half a hair’s diameter on average. They aren’t able to enter the tissues of the human body and as a result, are safer. In terms of surface care, their proportions are also consistent with the porosity of materials like natural stone, porcelain and terracotta, so they are able to penetrate a tile’s pores perfectly adequately.
Microtechnology is based on established knowledge, based on decades of research - and is the science used by many leading companies, including Fila. Our own system - Fila Micrometrics Technology - enables production of extremely stable and safe formulas that can be constantly checked to control their reliability. This mature technique tests particles not only in terms of effectiveness, but also in relation to duration and resistance, and the innumerable variables that affect them.
As an industry, innovation is key. But sometimes, embracing safe science and proven techniques provides a safer arena in which products can be developed and improved upon.
Author's Note: Established in 1943, Fila is a global, eco-focused company. It specialises in surface care solutions for marble, natural stone, porcelain, terracotta and wood. Combining the traditional values of a family-run firm with innovative product development, Fila products are recommended by over 200 floor manufacturers throughout the world.
At Amarestone, we have been using Fila products on our own projects very successfully for over 10 years now. I chose to use Fila because I could see that the products worked and because we get excellent technical support from the research team in Italy and now from the UK team.
For important customer projects (which is all of them!), we can send marble or limestone off to Italy for testing and ask Fila to recommend a solution for protection and ongoing maintenance.
This means that the customer gets the backing of the world's largest sealer company when using Amarestone for their natural stone projects.
If you would like to know more, please visit our Resources Page where you can download hints and tips on Cleaning and Maintenance of natural stone plus lots of other useful information:
Thanks for reading.
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