Achieving special features in polymer composites, such as flame retardancy and thermal and electrical conductivity, often requires the application of different additives, which might negatively affect other properties of the polymer matrix and the composite structure. Furthermore, the application of solid additives in composites produced by liquid transfer moulding can lead to the filtration of the additive by the reinforcement, which causes a non-uniform particle distribution and an uneven performance. An evident solution to address these issues is to apply the additives in a separate layer on the surface of the composite. As in many applications, gelcoats are used to reach appropriate surface quality, a reasonable progression in the composite industry is the development of multifunctional gelcoats. In this article, after a short introduction to gelcoats and their main base materials (unsaturated polyester, epoxy, and others) multifunctional gelcoats are discussed according to their functionality, in particular water resistance, electric conductivity and flame retardancy. Classical and novel gelcoat preparation methods (application by brush and/or roller, spraying, UV-curing, in-mould gelcoating), as well as common defects that occur during gelcoating are discussed. Finally, the testing methods of multifunctional gelcoats are outlined.
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