An Overview of the Powder Coating Process
You might have heard of powder coating in passing, but you might be wondering: what is powder coating and how does it work? As you may already know, powder coating is a popular finishing process used in various industries to apply a durable, protective layer to metal, wood, and other materials. It involves using an electrostatic process to apply a dry powder to the substrate, which is then cured using heat to form a smooth, uniform surface. Here, we’ll go in depth to answer the question “what is powder coating” and help you determine if it’s right for your business.
The Powder Coating Process, Step-by-Step
First, the metal or substrate you’ll be powder coating needs to be properly pretreated. If there is any rust, cutting dross, dirt, or oils, the powder will adhere to them, which will cause peeling and flaking. There are many different cleaning methods, and the one you choose will depend on what type of material you’re using. Some common processes include cleaning, rinsing, etching, blasting, and drying.
After the part has been cleaned, it’s time to start the masking process. If there are certain sections that shouldn’t be coated, those parts will be sectioned off with plastic or paper to ensure they don’t get coated.
Now, the powder coat is ready to be applied. Most companies will use a process called electrostatic deposition (ESD). It involves a powder spray booth, powder feeder, electrostatic spray gun, and may include a power unit.
The spray booth is the area where the powder material is sprayed onto the part. It can also act as an air filter and catch any overspray. Fluidized powder materials go from the feeder unit to the powder coat gun, which puts an electrical charge onto the powder and applies it to the substrate. The electrically charged particles adhere to the part’s grounded surface.
The last part of the powder coating process involves heating the part in an oven. Usually, this oven will be between 325 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit and cure times range between 10 minutes to more than an hour. The powder particles melt and flow together to create a continuous film on the part.
Advantages of Powder Coating
How does powder coating stack up against other types of finishing processes? It offers a lot more advantages than you might think.
Powder coating is known for its durability and resistance to wear and tear. It can withstand harsh environmental factors without fading or chipping, which makes it perfect for outdoor applications like fencing, gates, and furniture.
Powder coating can be used on a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, and even wood. It can be applied to both flat and curved surfaces, making it a versatile option for a variety of applications.
Because it doesn’t contain solvents or other harmful chemicals, powder coating is a more eco-friendly option than some other alternatives. It’s also a more efficient process than traditional liquid coatings as there is less waste generated during the application process.
Economical and Long-Lasting
While the initial cost of powder coating may be higher than other finishing methods, the overall cost is often lower in the long run. This is because powder coating is long-lasting and requires less maintenance than other methods, which can lead to cost savings over time.
Powder coating is available in a wide range of colors and finishes, making it a popular choice for decorative applications. You can often get a wide range of colors, finishes, and textures that aren’t replicable with other conventional liquid coating methods.
Disadvantages of Powder Coating
Before you decide to pursue powder coating, we must also discuss the disadvantages to give you a clear idea of if it’s right for your business.
May Leave an “Orange Peel” Texture
An orange peel texture will provide a surface that has a dimpled or bumpy texture, which is not desirable for many products. If the coating is applied too thickly or unevenly, or if the temperature and humidity conditions are not ideal during the coating process, the coating can develop this texture. However, you might find this texture desirable for your project, as it can provide a certain level of grip or friction.
The powder coating may deteriorate from UV light, though it depends on the kind of powder you’re using. If you plan to keep your powder coated materials outside, it’s best to find a powder coat material that can withstand the harsh sun.
Difficult-to-Do Touch Ups
Unlike with paint, you can’t just give a powder coated piece a touch up. If your piece is looking a little worse for wear, you’ll have to get the entire thing powder coated again.
Work with C.R. Metal Products for Your Powder Coating Needs
Still have questions pertaining to “what is powder coating?” We’d be happy to answer them. As a leading metal fabrication and metal finishing company that’s been around since 1946, we’re experts in the powder coating process.
Our powder coating methods maximize production speed and efficiency, which makes us the perfect partner to take on your next project. Additionally, our facilities maintain ISO 9001:2000 certifications, which hold us to the highest standards in manufacturing excellence. To date, we’ve helped hundreds of partners with their manufacturing and finishing needs; we’re ready to do the same for you.
Let’s Create a Great Partnership
Ready to talk to us about our powder coating services? Reach out to us here.