The history of Thermal Spray goes back the better part of a century. Fuel Air Thermal Spray dates to around World War One, but it is not well suited for non-slip applications. Electric Arc Thermal Spray was invented in Europe in 1945, and made its way to America sometime after that.
Maximilian Palena invented MEBAC® in 1963. He was part of Plasma-Spray Corporation (Cherry Hill, NJ) at the time. The US Navy contracted Plasma-Spray to research methods of treating aircraft carrier jet blast deflectors. The coatings had to be corrosion resistant, durable, and slip resistant. His work was inspired by a research paper called New Developments in Plasma Arc Weld Surfacing that was presented by R. Zuchowski and E. Garrabrant at the 1963 American Welding Society’s 44th annual meeting. Mr. Palena conducted dozens of careful tests to find the correct settings and sequences to produce a good product.
The US Navy continued to test the early MEBAC® products until at least 1975 (12 years after Plasma-Spray first started research into this area). The report from the US Navy at that time credited what was later to be called MEBAC® as being the best product available for their application after tests onboard the USS Kitty Hawk. It is unknown if the Navy ever did actually buy flooring from Plasma-Spray. However, in 1968 Mr. Palena filed for a patent entitled Metal Bonded Non-Skid Coating and Method of Making Same, it was granted in 1975 as patent number 3,855,444. Around this time it is presumed that Plasma-Spray began to commercially produce this product in a plant in Pennsaoken, NJ. Later, in 1976, Mr. Palena filed for another patent (entitled Metal Non-Skid Coating) that was a refinement of the earlier patent. It was granted in 1977 as patent number 4,029,852. The spray heads and wire drives were home made of Plasma-Spray’s design. Although later on other companies began to produce off-the-shelf commercial units, the company has largely remained with the original design for the spray heads.
In the 1970’s IKG became interested in MEBAC® and initially bought the plant in New Jersey no later than 1979. At this time only aluminum MEBAC® was produced.
In 1984 the equipment was moved to Nashville along with one or two of the operators from New Jersey. Steel MEBAC® was introduced in 1985. In 1986 steel MEBAC® began to be hot dip galvanized although it was known that there could be issues if it was not pickled just right. In this time period Mr. Palena received royalties on all MEBAC® produced, but was apparently not involved in the product.
In the 2000’s, the equipment was moved within the building and truly effective dust collection was applied to the equipment for the first time. There were various improvements in wire feeding, blasting methods, standard operating procedures, and preventative maintenance. For the first time, effective quality measurements were put into place. At this time the plant discontinued hot dip galvanizing in favor of aluminum coatings. Successful experiments in spraying a galvanized product were conducted, but shelved in favor of aluminum. Stainless steel coatings were experimented with, but remained elusive as a viable product.
Our most recent move was to Leeds, Alabama in 2005, where we developed a partnership with Valmont Galvanizing. This enabled IKG to offer steel on steel and then hot dipped to the general market without fear of product failure. In 2014 IKG purchased new equipment to keep up with technology, with a new blast cabinet and PLC controlled coating house.Share this page:
We offer a wide range of MEBAC® slip-resistant coated products. We also offer a custom fabrication service for your own materials.