Eliminate the Hassles, Imperfections and Frustrations of DIY Powder-Coating

Powder coating is a phenomenal product which, in terms of advantages, far surpasses liquid paint products in a myriad of ways.  Powder-coating farm equipment, vehicles, patio furniture, metal fencing, military components and medical instruments only scratches the surface regarding the types of products that can be optimally protected and beautified, via powder-coating products.

 

Though some do-it-yourself projects involving powder coating can turn out quite nicely and look quite professional, unless one is extremely well-versed in powder coating-procedures, it is best to utilize the expertise of those who know, exactly, what they are doing. Unprofessional attempts at powder coating can leave a finished product with less-than-stellar results.  For example, very characteristic defects – such a rumpled finish –  is the result of electrostatics when excessive charge builds up in a powder coating layer.  This can happen if the powder is applied too thickly or two quickly.  Also, if one is not entirely well-versed on powder-coating procedures, flaking, bubbling, chipping and cracking can severely compromise the finish.  Procedural errors such as inaccurate temperatures, incorrect pre-treatment, inadequate curing, and more, can wreak havoc on the appearance of the final surface.  Powder coating involves layering; and any botched stage of the coating process can adversely affect the next layer.

 

Let’s take a look at a few examples where DIY powder coating projects can result in powder-coating failures:

 

*** Insufficient Substrate Preparation

If the surface to be powder-coated is not properly smoothed out – such as blasted metal or sharp edges – premature corrosion can set in even if a thicker layer of powder-coating is applied.  However, even when thicker applications are utilized, microscopic protrusions may not be fully covered, especially in recessed areas that can be difficult to reach.  If any area is not properly coated due to inadequate substrate preparation, it will compromise the longevity and durability of the finished surface.

 

Also, the substrate or the composition of the substrate can negatively affect the adhesion and/or corrosion-resistant properties of the powder-coating. Underestimating the effect of the composition of the substrate can result in minimized performance of the powder-coat.

 

*** Inadequate Pre-Treatment

It is easy for sediment to accumulate around the bottom of objects that have been hung for the pre-treatment rinse.  If sediment remains unnoticed and is allowed to dry, failure of the powder-coating should be expected.  Also, when incorrect pre-treatment chemicals are used or if edges, corners, and/or recessed areas are overlooked during any pre-treatment procedure (sometimes these areas are a challenge regarding penetration of pre-treatment), corrosion will result.  Corrosion typically starts on the edges or in deep recesses where the coverage of the powder-coat is thinner and where the pre-treatment has a more-difficult time penetrating.

 

*** Coating Too Thick or Too Thin

How powder-coating is applied is vitally important.  When applied too thinly, not only will an uneven appearance become a problem, but corrosion is sure to set in since water, debris and salt particles can become embedded into even the smallest crevices and migrate under the thin coating.  If powder-coat is applied too thickly, any inherent flexibility and impact resistance of the powder-coating will be dramatically reduced.  When powder-coating is applied as multiple layers, each layer must be absolutely perfect to guarantee the coating’s optimal performance for pliability and protection.

 

*** Improper Curing

Proper curing during the powder-coating process is crucial; and even if the object’s surface has been properly pre-treated, inadequate curing will cause minimized durability, color degradation, and a dulled finish.  The time required to completely cure at a given temperature should never be rushed. Under-cured powder coating can appear smooth and glossy, but a break-down in performance will, soon, be noticed.

 

*** Failure to take Environment into Account

In real-estate, it’s all about ‘location, location, location’; and the same can be said for powder-coating. Underestimating how environmental factors can affect powder-coating is a common error.  Coastal locations, for example, should be especially noted since extremely high UV indexes and continuous salty, wet environments will take their toll on incompatible powder-coating products.  Planning for the most-adverse atmospheric conditions is extremely important.

 

If the powder-coating product used in a marine or coastal environment is unsuitable, water, dirt and salt will permeate the film and lead to early corrosion.  It’s important to realize that not all powder-coatings are created equally, nor are all powder-coatings designed to work optimally in every type of environment.

Three Very Good Reasons to Use Powder Coating

Powder coating, inherently, offers a myriad of benefits over conventional liquid coatings.  Powder coating:  1) is more cost-efficient 2) is more environmentally friendly 3) offers thicker and more durable coverage 4) will flex and bend with the material, to which, it is applied 5) offers less wasteful over-spray 6) can create designs and textures and 7) provides a more-professional appearance.

 

Out of all the advantages that powder coating offers, let’s take a closer look at three of these reasons which would justify powder coating being the superior option when it comes to adding unmatched beauty and durability to automotive rims, patio furniture, appliances, iron gates, medical equipment and so much more!

 

Powder Coating is More Environmentally Friendly

The environmental benefits of using powder coating are impressive.  To begin with, since powder coatings do not contain any fluids to evaporate, powder coating does not emit any solvents.  This means volatile organic compounds, known as VOC’s, are not produced.  VOC’s are known to be health hazards to humans and animals as well as cause harm to the environment, with industrial pollution being only one of them.

 

Powder coating does not contain heavy metals or harmful cancer-causing agents.  This amazing medium produces no waste-water discharge into sewer systems or ground water.  Interestingly, powder coating over-spray can, actually, be recycled.  As a result, material loss can be kept under 5%, while 70% of paint is lost to over-spray during the application process.  Over-spray from paint is virtually impossible to collect and recycle.  Since very little of powder coating is disposed of due to its high utilization rate, and since the disposal process of unusable powder is very simplistic, any miniscule amount that does need to discarded is not subjected to the same strict environmental controls that liquid paints must adhere to.

 

Powder Coating Bends

It’s almost hard to believe that a colored finish on an object would have the ability to, quite literally, bend and yield with the object to which it is applied without the finish becoming compromised.  This is an especially vital benefit in the transportation industry where products and components are subjected to a great deal of vibration and twisting.

 

The Bend Test is one of multiple tests that powder coating is subjected to in order to ensure performance reliability and quality control.  It is with the Bend Test that powder coating is applied on a .036-inch thick, phosphated steel panel where it must easily withstand a 180-degree bend over a ¼-inch mandrel without cracking or flaking.  Elasticity and resistance to deformation are vital attributes for powder coating products; and the Bend Test is specifically designed to assess those attributes.

 

Powder Coating Offers an Unsurpassed Finish

In spite of the fact that powder coating offers a much thicker finish than conventional liquid paint, running, dripping or sagging of the coating are not issues.  To put the thickness factor into a clearer perspective, the physical properties of coverage between wet paint, decorative powder coat and functional powder coat look like this:

 

*** Wet Paint:  0.5 – 1 mil

*** Decorative Powder Coat:  2 – 6 mil

*** Functional Powder Coat:  6 – 10+ mil

 

Functional powder coating is used by consumers, both private and public, when super-enhanced protection is desired such as protection for space satellites, farm equipment or a refurbished antique car.

 

A powder-coated finish is considerably more durable than liquid paints, which allows powder-coated finishes to last up to 20 years.  Powder coating’s durability is unsurpassed, providing corrosion and maximized protection from chipping, scratching and normal wear and tear.

Countless Items Can Be Powder-Coated

Most people would be, absolutely, amazed to discover the types of items that are powder-coated – from hand-guns, to playground equipment, to surgical supplies to house-hold appliances.  Powder coating is a smart alternative to regular wet paint since it is more cost-effective, more durable and much kinder on the environment.

 

So what else can be powder-coated? – Let’s take a quick peek:

 

Everyday Items

Countless, everyday items are not painted, as one would expect.  Instead, many things you use while at home, while at the office, or during recreation-time, are powder-coated.  Lighting fixtures, electrical components, golf clubs and carts, exercise equipment and even mechanical pencils and thumb tacks go through the powder-coating process.  Colors and patterns are, virtually, limitless; and finishes include smooth, wrinkled, matte and roughly-textured.

 

Various powder-coating products meet very specific needs.  Standard weather-resistant powder-coating, for example, is used for windows and garage doors; while higher-grade, weather-resistant powder-coating is maximally effective when applied to commercial buildings, boats, yachts etc. used in environments where salt water, intense UV, and humidity are ever-present.  Whatever the need, powder-coating will meet it thanks to its resistance to corrosion, heat, impact, abrasion, fading and weather extremes.

 

Auto, Truck and Cycle Parts

Not only can the exterior of a cycle, car or truck be powder-coated, but most of its parts can reap the benefits of powder-coating, as well.  Wheels, bumpers, hubcaps, truck beds, radiators, accents parts, handle bars and more are, all, excellent candidates for the powder-coating procedure.

 

Clear powder-coat has become a popular option for protecting a vehicle’s body-paint.  Major car manufacturers use clear powder-coating as a protective finish since it will, optimally, protect against chipping, scratching and fading.  Those who wish to personalize their vehicles can go beyond simple, gorgeous colors and choose metallic, candied, iridescent, fluorescent, hammer tone, glitters, various gloss levels, and more.

 

Here is a bit of insight regarding various powder-coating colors and finishes:

 

***Chromes are the most-reflective types of powder, and offer a beautiful and unique appearance.

 

***Candy colors, like solid colors, are many and varied; and they get their effect from being translucent.

 

***Veins and wrinkle patterns are coats that provide a physical texture that can be seen and felt; and the texture can provide ‘grip’ or traction.

 

***Clear powder-coat, as mentioned, provides added protection; and it enhances the finish.  It gives some colors more depth, especially, gloss-black.  Also, clears come in a number of gloss-levels; and various effects can be achieved when metallic flakes are added.

 

 

Baby Items

Powder-coating is a safe, baby-friendly alternative to paint.  These days, most baby products are powder-coated, including toys, cribs, strollers, baby furniture and more.  Powder-coating is non-toxic and far more durable than paint; and this is good news for parents who are well aware of how young children chew on toys, crib-railings, etc.

 

Powder-Coating Goes Beyond Metal

Powder-coating can be used to coat many types of materials, not just metal.  Wood, plastic, composites, glass and medium-density fiber board can, all, be beautifully transformed.   Believe it or not, dentures can be powder-coated, too; and dentures that are made, via powder-coating, are more durable.

 

Do you have anything in your home, garage or business that could use a make-over?  Chances are, whatever item you have in mind, can be powder-coated!

Why Is Masking Used in Powder Coating?

When learning more about powder coating, one term that is very important to be aware of is ‘masking’.  Masking does what the name implies – one or more areas of an item to be powder coated might need be masked, or covered, to prevent certain areas from becoming powder-coated and/or colorized.

 

The high-temperature polyester masking tape used in powder-coating is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill tape since it can comfortably withstand more than 400 degrees Fahrenheit without becoming compromised.  Fourth-inch tape is very useful for masking smaller areas while two-inch tape is useful for larger areas, with various other widths, in-between.  To make masking even easier, high-temp dot-shaped tapes are available in various sizes and are the perfect solution for circular areas that must remain powder-coating free.  Also, fiberglass tape is more flexible on irregular and curved surfaces while blue mylar high-temp tape provides less flexibility but achieves a sharper line.

 

Silicone plugs are another handy way to mask specific areas.  They are tapered and work beautifully to mask off bolt holes, for instance.  Not only do these plugs come in hundreds of sizes, but they will not degrade in the oven and can be reused!  Silicone caps serve the same purpose as the plugs but they are designed and shaped to fit over studs.

 

There are two important reasons why masking is utilized with powder-coating:

 

To Target Specific Areas

Depending on what item will be powder-coated, masking can be a very tedious procedure, but in many cases, it is a necessary one.  For example, connective parts of an item that were not masked, but should have been, will not be able to reconnect once the powder coating has dried.  This is because powder coating ends up as being much thicker and harder than the majority of paints.  In vehicle parts, especially, there are assemblies that fit with very tight tolerances; and certain areas must not be powder-coated, at all.  Also, if a car’s starter, for example, were completely powder coated, all bare-metal surfaces would be covered, disallowing any electrical connection.  Thanks to masking, however, certain areas that must bypass any powder-coating will be left alone.

 

Let’s assume you desire to powder-coat the spoke wire wheels of your car, in two contrasting colors – masking would provide the perfect, seamless solution.  If the lip were to be powder coated in black, for instance, the spokes would be masked to prevent those pieces from becoming the same color.  Later, the lip would be masked while the spokes would be powder coating in a contrasting color, such as silver.  Voile`! You end up with stunning, two-toned wheels, thanks to the convenience of masking.

 

To Create Designs

Various detailed masking techniques allow one to create words, logos, designs and personalized artwork of almost any kind.  Whether your passion is cycles, go carts, golf carts, your car or truck, or your gun collection, you can achieve virtually any design that suits your fancy.

 

When a part is masked off, the tape can remain on the part the entire time it is being cured in the oven.    However, there are times when the tape can be removed before the entire curing process is complete.  Those who are experienced with masking during powder coating, know when an item can be pulled from the oven in order to remove select pieces of masking tape.  Once the masking tape is removed, items can be transferred back into the oven to reheat; but to avoid errors of any kind, removing masking tape early requires a great deal of insight and skill with the masking and powder coating process.

 

With specialty and custom projects, masking can create aesthetics one might only have dreamed of!  There is no need to limit yourself to a single color of powder coat when two-tone and multi-color options can be easily achieved, thanks to masking.  From cycle wheels to faucets to personal gun collections, to patio furniture – masking allows powder-coating to take on a whole new dimension where the ideas remain endless!

How to Make Powder Coat Last as Long As Possible

Powder coating has an outstanding reputation for its durability factor; and keeping any powder-coating finishes in pristine condition requires little care. Here are some suggestions one can utilize to ensure this type of protective finish lasts a very long time.

 

Use Cleaners

Pollutants, dirt, grim,  salt and salty air will do their best to attempt to compromise any powder-coated finish, whether that finish has been applied to playground equipment, auto or cycle parts, an iron gate or patio furniture.  A cleaning every 6 months is very adequate in some areas of the US, but in coastal regions or industrial areas, a cleaning schedule should include a cleaning every 3 months.

 

For most powder-coated items, the cleaning is simple;

 

1:  Use a wet sponge to remove any loose deposits of grime, salt-accumulation etc.

2:  For any stubborn dirt, grime or salt debris that remains, use a soft cotton cloth saturated with and a dish-soap cleaner and warm water.

3:  For sealants, splashes of paint, and other more-intense types of residue, one can very safely use Methylated Spirits, Turpentine or White Spirits.

4:  Rinse any cleaning solutions off with a hose.

 

Soaps with emulsifiers that break down common stains are the best to use.  To make it even easier, commercially-prepared products that are environmentally-friendly and 100% water-based offer the ease of ready-to-use formulas in spray bottles.  Dirt, grease, oil, mold and other pollutants are eradicated, allowing items such as powder-coated patio furniture to look new again!

 

It should be pointed out that any solvents and other petroleum-based chemicals that caution one to use gloves should be avoided, at all cost!  They would clean by removing micro-layers of the powder coat finish.  The damage that would, likely, result may not become evident until months, down the road, where one would begin to notice cracking, premature loss of gloss and fading of color – severe cleaning solutions will accelerate staining, fading and the ultimate failure of the powder-coat finish.

 

Pressure cleaning, at a low setting, is another grime-removing option.  In a perfect world, one should use filtered water since unfiltered/hard tap water or ground water can cause staining due to the presence of sulfur, iron oxide, chlorine, fluoride and other ingredients.

 

Use Wax

Commercially-prepared products are available, once again, specifically designed for powder-coatings.  Products that will wax and polish, allow powder finishes to become optimally restored, maintained and preserved.

 

Also, high-grade, non-abrasive car wax will do wonders to block and/or inhibit UV rays; but avoid compound car waxes that contain abrasives.  After applying a light coat of wax, it is important to remove any residual wax that could become baked on from the heat of the sun.

 

One can substantially prolong the service life of powder-coated finishes with regular care.  One’s car, truck, backyard pool and lawn receive scheduled maintenance, and powder-coated items deserve the same attention.  It’s all about regular maintenance so everything from exercise equipment to BBQ grills to bird-baths can remain beautified, protected and functional for years to come!

Three Situations Where Powder-Coating Is Better than Paint

Paint products certainly have their place; but the advantages of powder-coating over paint remain undeniable.  As with paint, powder-coating provides protection and aesthetics; but if you want superior performance and far less environmental pollution, then powder-coating takes the lead.

 

All in all, the advantages of powder-coating over paint include:  1) unsurpassed durability, gloss retention, color vibrancy and superior resistance to corrosion, chipping and scratching 2)  less produced-waste and lower energy costs 3) lack of solvents and VOCs 4) availability of an unlimited range of colors, finishes, designs and textures and 5) being far more environmentally friendly.

 

Do all the advantages of powder-coating over paint mean the applications for powder-coating are limited – absolutely not!  Almost anything that can be painted can be powder-coated.  To the surprise of many, powder coating can be used with a slew of different materials including some wood, metal, wrought iron, ceramic, glass and, in some cases, even paper!

 

Below, are three scenarios where powder-coating becomes an excellent candidate for enhancing the beauty and performance for the items involved:

 

Guns and Firearms

The benefits of powder-coating become clearly evident when one has an opportunity to attend a gun show and see, first hand, firearms and guns that have a professional powder-coated finish.  Revolvers and pistols with black and red accents or black and gold MP9s take on a striking, personalized appearance.  For those ladies who might carry a weapon, handguns can be powder-coated in colors that reflect a more-feminine side such as robin’s egg blue & silver or even a pink camouflage pattern – the patterns and colors for guns and firearms are endless!

 

Pool and Patio Furniture

Do you have pool or patio furniture that has seen better days?  The beauty is, you don’t have to replace those expensive items, nor do you want to just slap a layer of paint on top of the existing surface – powder coating your outdoor furniture will give each piece a new lease on life!  One can choose different corrosion-protection alternatives as well as a multitude of finishes and mind-boggling colors.

 

Powder-coating professionals will prepare surfaces to ensure they are contaminant-free –  oils, dirt and loose paint are completely removed, whether via sandblasting or sanding.  For furniture made of ferrous material, corrosion protection is typically applied as a dip or spray process and an epoxy primer is usually added which offers an additional sealant layer that combats rust formation.  In the end, all one can say concerning the finished, transformed product is, “Wow!”

 

Cycle and Automotive Parts

Talk about a make-over! – Cars, trucks and cycles can be transformed from ‘ordinary’ to ‘extraordinary’ with the powder-coating process.  Rims, wheels, frames and more will take on a ‘fresh-from-the-factory’ appearance that will last for years. Since powder-coating is known for its superior durability, vehicle parts of all kinds are offered unparalleled protection from contaminants, wear & tear, mechanical heat, corrosion and temperature extremes.  Metal parts and surfaces and impressively shielded under a ‘coat of armor’.  And it is not just the ‘typical’ parts that can be powder-coated – virtually any part of a car, truck or cycle can become beautified and optimally protected:  accent parts, bumpers, exterior trim, truck beds, handle bars, kick stands, valve covers, nerf-bars for pick-ups and jeeps, and so much more!

 

Yes, powder-coating offers endless application possibilities from toilets to toasters, and remains an exciting alternative to paint!  What’s in YOUR home, garage or business that could be radically transformed?

Why Powder Coating is Used in the Military

Powder coating is used in every industry one can imagine –  from agriculture and construction to automotive, pharmaceutical, the consumer-product industry and, yes, even the military.  Whenever powder-coating serves military and defense sectors, it must adhere to the most-demanding mil-spec standards.  Not only must military powder coating meet rigid mil-spec requirements, combat-grade coatings must offer finishes that are unparallelled in the areas of durability and protection.

 

Let’s delve a bit deeper into why powder coating is such a vital finishing product for the armed forces.

 

Military-grade powder coat incorporates components that are highly-resistant to the absorption of harsh chemical agents without compromising the powder coat’s ability to optimally combat corrosion and wear.  The military acronym is CARC which stands for Chemical Agent Resistant Coating; and it offers superior adhesion and coverage when compared to other coating techniques, and is able to withstand the most-merciless and unforgiving conditions.

 

Skilled technicians who apply military-grade powder coat utilize a military-approved zinc phosphate system that offers incomparable corrosion resistance and maximized adhesion properties.  Unlike other coating products, military-grade powder coat will stand up to the most-extreme use and abuse, thereby, preventing parts and components from wearing down, prematurely.

 

Chemical Agent Resistant Coating offers distinct advantages as a finishing product for the Department of Defense:

 

***  CARC offers virtually zero volatile organic compounds and produces low emissions.

 

***  CARC is up to 95% recyclable which translates into preservation of resources and a much cleaner environment as well as reducing waste that ends up in landfills.

 

***  CARC allows for higher film-builds which means more applications can be performed, resulting in enhanced protection of military vehicles and equipment as well as less maintenance.

 

***  CARC offers maximized corrosion protection; and this, in turn, prolongs the lifespan of vehicles and equipment.

 

***  CARC prevents the absorption of chemical agents which allows for easier and safer decontamination of parts and equipment.

 

Interesting Facts on Powder-coating in the US Military

 

***  Believe it or not, in 2010 the US Department of Defense estimated a whopping $23 billion having been spent each year on corrosion costs!  That equated to 20% of monies spent on the maintenance of equipment, weapon systems and facilities.  The annual corrosion cost for Navy ships, alone, is estimated by the DoD to be about $3.7 billion, annually.  Corrosion has been so pervasive and costly for the military that, in 2018, the US House of Representatives has increased its efforts to dramatically reduce corrosion and save billions of dollars for the DoD.

 

Top Generals and Admirals, in the past, instructed their staffs to discover ways to minimize the billions of dollars spent on corrosion repairs, repainting and general maintenance of the US military’s countless ships and vehicles.  Fast forward and we find specialized powder coatings that have come to the rescue as being so effective with corrosion control that they are, now, used as an alternative to former methods of corrosion protection!

 

***  Almost every Naval shipyard is equipped to apply maintenance powder coatings.  One powder-coating facility is located at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard’s Regional Repair Center which offers easy access of corrosion-control capabilities for surface ships.

 

***  With the issuance and upgrades of military specifications from the Army Research Laboratory and Naval Sea Systems Command, powder coating applications by powder manufacturers have increased, exponentially.

 

***  The newest naval vessel is the USS Gerald Ford; and it is not only the most-advanced aircraft carrier, but this monstrous ship is embedded with more powder-coated components than any other ship in the fleet.  Powder-coating treatments, galore, took place during the actual construction of the USS Gerald Ford.  In 2015, before the ship was sent out to sea from its dry dock in Newport News, VA one of the ships general contractors said:  “The USS Gerald Ford will, most likely, have more powder coating in it than any other vessel in the US Navy.”

 

***  A ‘Type III’ MIL spec powder-coating has incredible ‘technology’ attributes that possesses CARC characteristics and provide stunning camouflage properties that actually reduce the visibility of powder-coated equipment to enemy forces – this had led to saved lives within the US Military.

 

The military has dramatically increased its use of powder-based coatings – vehicles, equipment, ships, fixed-wing aircraft, water-purification systems, communication vans & trailers.  As a result, our fighting men and women benefit, too; and in some ways, those benefits are priceless.

The Invention of Powder Coating

Powder coating, being a finishing medium that is applied as a free-flowing dry powder, has been around a lot longer than many people realize.  The fact that powder coating possesses a slew of advantages over traditional wet paint, and being far more eco-friendly than traditional paint, would make one believe that powder-coating is fairly new; but the contrary is true.  If we go back to the late 1940’s we find the application of organic polymers, in powder form, being utilized.  By the time the 1950’s emerged, powders were flame-sprayed on metallic substrates.

 

Powder Coating Forges Ahead

If we want to give credit to the real advancement in powder-coat applications, it would go to a German scientist, Dr. Erwin Gemmer, who was visionary and looked beyond the 1950’s flame-spraying application method.  He developed what is called ‘fluidized bed application’ for thermoplastic resins on metal.  The process looked like this:

 

***  parts were pre-heated

***  organic coatings were applied

***  parts were immersed in a tank of finely-divided plastic powders

***  the plastic powders were held in a suspended state via a rising current of air

 

Dr. Gemmer’s fluidized bed application proved to be a much more efficient procedure than flame spraying, not to mention that flame spraying was extremely dangerous.  With the proof in the pudding, a patent for Dr. Gemmer’s new application process was filed in Germany in May of 1953; and in September of 1955, the patent was issued.  From then on, at least until 1965, almost all powder coatings were applied using Dr. Gemmer’s fluidized bed procedure.

 

As with all new and successful inventions, powder coating being used as a finishing product found itself absolutely surging ahead throughout America and Europe.  There was one small issue, however:  powder coating’s applications in various industries was very limited for commercial use.  Due to that limited usage, other powder coating application methods were being introduced that would allow for a much wider range of applications.

 

A Broader Range of Powder Coat Uses

It was during the 1960’s that electrostatic powder spray emerged in the US and Europe; and during the 1970’s additional refinements to powder coat, via the ‘slurry’ application, came into play.  Here, already-processed powder coatings were dispersed to a greater degree and, then, ground in a sand mill with water and surfactants being added to the mix.

 

Due to the advancements in powder coating, the applications for using this product, today, are quite stunning.  Aside from metal, powder coat can be applied to wood, plastic, composites, glass, plastics, MDF and even some paper!  Temperatures are modified to accommodate the delicateness of some materials since damage would, otherwise, occur with extreme heat.  And for materials that are not electrically conductive, pre-heating in an oven is necessary.  When the powder hits the heated area it will, slightly, melt on contact and effectively adhere.  The non-electrically-conductive item is, then, placed back in the oven and cured.

 

From baby cribs, fire pits, and handguns to car/truck/motorcycle parts, plastic benches, and porch swings, powder coating is doing its part to make our world a lot more beautiful!

A Few Reasons Why Powder Coat is Better than Paint

Those who are not fully familiar with powder-coating may be very surprised to learn the big advantages of choosing powder coating over traditional, wet paint.  To begin with, powder-coating provides much thicker coverage; it is far more durable than conventional liquid paints; it has the ability to bend and flex without compromising the structural integrity of the coating; and a myriad of designs, textures and special effects can be achieved, which traditional paints simply cannot replicate.

 

Powder coating can be a superior finishing option for achieving unsurpassed durability and a more-professional appearance on an immense array of objects ranging from patio furniture, to motorcycle parts, to baby cribs, to hand-guns!

 

Let’s delve a bit more deeply into why powder-coating remains a superior alternative to traditional wet paint:

 

Powder Coating Is Much Kinder to the Environment

Powder coatings do not contain fluids that evaporate; and, therefore, will not emit any solvents.  As a result, volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, are not produced.  This is important to the environment since VOCs are known to be health hazards to humans and animals in addition to being dangerous pollutants to land and water.  Powder coating produces no waste-water discharge into sewer systems or ground water, and does not contain heavy metals or carcinogenic agents.

 

Did you know powder coating over-spray can, actually, be recycled?  Unlike paint, powder-coating’s material loss can be kept under 5%, while 70% of paint is lost to over-spray during the application process.  Only a miniscule percentage of powder coating is disposed of due to its high utilization rate; and the disposal process of unusable powder is very simplistic.  Because of this, powder coating does not have to adhere to the same strict environmental controls that liquid paints do.

 

Powder Coating is Far More Flexible

Powder coating has the unique ability to bend and yield with the object to which it is applied; without the finish being compromised.  The Bend Test comes into play, here, which is one of multiple tests that ensure performance reliability and quality control.  With the Bend Test, powder coating is applied onto a .036-inch thick, phosphated steel panel where it must easily withstand a 180-degree bend over a ¼-inch mandrel without cracking or flaking—a demanding role that powder coating can, easily, meet!

 

Powder Coating Offers a Noticeably-Thicker Finish

Powder coating offers a much thicker finish that wet paint.  If we compare the physical properties, in terms of thickness-coverage between wet paint and decorative powder coat and functional powder coat, the variances are quite revealing:

 

*** Wet Paint:  0.5 – 1 mil

*** Decorative Powder Coat:  2 – 6 mil

*** Functional Powder Coat:  6 – 10+ mil

 

Powder coating beats wet paint, hands down!  A powder-coated finish can last to last up to 20 years, providing superior durability that is unsurpassed.

 

Powder Coating Cures Much Quicker

When a powder-coated item is removed from the oven, the finish is completely cured within a mere 20 minutes, meaning it can be handled and used!  Depending on the project, traditional liquid paints can require a number of days to completely cure.

 

After it’s all said and done, the advantages of powder-coating over liquid paint are quite stunning.  Everything from military equipment, to appliances, to space satellites are powder-coated; and the reasons ‘why’, speak for themselves!

Basic Powder-Coating Safety Tips

When a powder-coat medium works together with the necessary equipment and procedures, certain safety measures should be utilized to ensure the well-being of those involved with any powder-coating processes.

 

Here are some basic safety procedures that responsible operators would utilize when any item – regardless of size – would go through powder-coating which involve electrostatic operations.  The types of protective measures that should be taken during the powder coating procedures would be too numerous to mention, but the following serves as a good starting point.

 

Respiratory Protection

As expected, coating powders can create airborne dust; and they should be dealt with, appropriately, since they may cause adverse skin or respiratory reactions. When working outside of the spray enclosure, be sure to wear a disposable dust mask.  If, however, dust levels exceed the TLV, it is prudent to wear half-masks with cartridge filters.  When working inside the spray enclosure, full-face masks with a fresh-air supply need to be worn.

 

Ideally, the installation of properly-constructed spray booths should be equipped with exhaust ventilation components designed to extract dust and maintain airborne concentrations.  Additionally, the direction of the airflow should be from behind the operator, over the workpiece, and into the exhaust ducts.  Respiratory protective equipment should be worn, also, when packages of powder coats are opened, hoppers are loaded, and when unused powders are collected.  If you suffer from allergies or have difficulty breathing due to certain physiological conditions, avoiding powder-coating procedures, altogether, is prudent.

 

An extra safety precaution would include the powder-supply and coating-powder feedlines being interlocked with the air-extraction system.  The reason for this is simple:  in the event of the ventilation system failing, the coating powder and powder supplies would be cut off.  Airflow monitor switches would detect any failure of the ventilation system.  When cleaning any spills and equipment, dust-tight vacuum cleaners and/or wet brushing are preferred clean-up methods.

 

Grounding Safety

Electrical hazards can emerge if one does not take basic precautions.  Protective clothing should be worn to limit skin exposure; and overalls, footwear, and gloves should be anti-static and meet the requirements of ISO 2023/2024.  Protective covering is, especially, important in situations where powder coating concentrations exceed 10mg/m3.

 

Conditions that lead to combustion can be difficult to recognize.  To avoid combustion, methodically and regularly cleaning powder build-up from part fixtures and racks is essential.  Excess powder coating on metal fixtures or racks creates resistance to ground.  Poor grounding is the No. 1 cause of fire in a finishing system.

 

As a side-note, automatic sprinklers are required in a powder booth, as deemed necessary by OSHA.  Additionally, NFPA requires automatic fire suppression and flame-detection equipment (for automatic systems) inside booths.

Common-sense prohibitions from eating, drinking and smoking should be employed in any work area –  smoking, matches, and lighters, of course, are predictably dangerous sources of ignition.

 

Oven Safety

The oven should be positioned a minimum of 3 feet from the powder spraying installation; and powder should not allowed to accumulate or be spilled near the oven, the air intakes, any hot surfaces, or any electrical components.  With conveyor ovens,  the conveyor could, possibly stop; and to circumvent this possibility, an interlock should be in place to maximally reduce or shut down the energy source to prevent overheating and possible ignition of the coating powder.

 

Though there is far more to be covered concerning safety regarding powder application and recovery, powder coating has the potential to be dangerous if appropriate safety precautions are not taken, seriously.  Safety should, always, be the top concern during any phase of the powder coating process.