Powder coating on metal can revolutionize the look and feel of a project. Also, it provides long-lasting protection from wear, corrosion, and damage.
Keep exploring this blog to unveil key insight into mastering powder coating techniques. Information on the types of materials involved, equipment needed for effective application, and advantages of powder coating over painting will be very helpful for you.
What Are Powder Coating Materials?
Powder coating materials are polyester, epoxy, and hybrid powders. Curing agents and additives are also involved. When heated to a certain temperature, these compounds fuse into one continuous film on the metal surface.
Powder coating on metal produces extremely durable coatings, even in outdoor applications.
Resin systems include epoxy, acrylic, vinyl, or polyester, to name a few. Certain pre-treatment chemicals may be used as a final process for some applications.
Powder Coating Materials – Types
Each type out in the market offers varying properties, characteristics, and benefits for a variety of metal finishes. Types of powder coating on metal are listed below.
Powder coatings are relatively easy to use, and they offer excellent resistance against environmental elements.
Thermosetting powders are the most widely used type of powder coating. Characteristics include heat resistance, UV protection, and high durability. Thermosetting powders are generally more expensive. However, they last longer and provide a uniform finish.
Thermoplastic powders are generally less expensive, and can be used for indoor and outdoor applications.
Although thermosetting coatings outperform them, thermoplastic coatings may not be as durable and robust, resulting in subpar performance in harsh weather or UV exposure.
Different types of thermoplastic powders are available that come in various colors, gloss levels, and textures.
|Property||Thermosetting Powders||Thermoplastic Powders|
|Ease of use||Easy to use||Easy to use|
|Resistance||Excellent environmental and mechanical||Superior corrosion and chemical resistance|
|Durability||High durability, heat resistance, and UV protection||Lower durability and robustness|
|Price||Generally more expensive||Generally less expensive|
|Finish||Uniform, hard finish||Softer finish|
|Applications||Indoor and outdoor applications||Indoor and outdoor applications|
|Performance in harsh conditions||Better performance in harsh weather and UV exposure||Not as good as thermosetting coatings|
|Variety||Available in various colors, gloss levels, and textures||Available in various colors, gloss levels, and textures|
Thermosetting and Thermoplastic Comparison
Powder Coating Equipment And Tools!
Disadvantage of powder coatings can make you freak out. Learning about the types of equipment utilized for powder coating on metal will help you decide which pieces to invest in. Below is a breakdown of the most powder coating kit and tools:
Powder Coating Gun
Easy application with evenly distributed coatings is possible with this gun. Runs or sags in a finished product are prevented. Unlike traditional methods, only one pass is required. No air compressor is needed. Having the right gun is essential for professional-grade results.
An ultra-tough finish is formed that stands up well against force, abrasion, and chemical exposure as needed. Properly heating and cooling powder coated parts are the most important steps in any successful finishing process.
Thus, investing in a curing oven with digitally adjustable temperature control capabilities is best. Other types may not effectively perform properly on metal surface finishes.
A quick and efficient preheating feature is desirable. In addition, a high-tech model can often be integrated with automation solutions.
Choose a powder booth that provides an efficient iteration process to ensure product quality and uniformity between each coating run on metal surfaces.
Additionally, it should enable the user to accurately match finishing requirements both quickly and effectively for minimizing wastage with powders, colors, and coats.
Spray booth is a critical element in providing coatings that meet safety standards. Invest wisely in a booth designed for powder special applications that often come equipped with efficient filter systems. High-efficiency filters deliver premium performance over a long period of time.
Compressed Air System
A compressed air system is necessary for dust-free, consistent powder coating operations on metal. Typically, it consists of an optional pre-filter/separator; two approved NEMA-rated pressure tanks (receivers).
Such tanks should be capable of 30 plus SCFM per pump filling capacity at 100 feet of active hose. A gas-powered screw compressor is needed. Compressed air systems also help with moisture and oil issues which reduce powder adhesion problems.
Not to mention, the system promotes cooling capabilities in transferring paints or metal surfaces for smoother coatings over multiple areas on projects quickly.
In order to better adhere electrostatic paint and coating solutions to metal, proper grounding of the spray gun is necessary. Investing in reliable ground equipment such as an ordnance set-up allows users to apply a uniform coat faster.
By using less powder than handheld options alone, they can effectively eliminate undesired draw points throughout the finished product.
Such issues can arise due to improper mounting or randomly placed parts. Those can disrupt paint coverage and usage.
Fluidized Bed (Optional)
Fluidizing beds are optional pieces of powder coating equipment. Usually, they are found in production operations where the need to coat large amounts of objects with various sizes exists.
Fluidizing beds create uniform finishes on all shapes and surfaces using less energy compared to what would be required by an electrostatic application gun, offering a more efficient approach to achieving desired results.
Well, the advantage of its ability to deliver the same quality finish lies in that it is true regardless of what type or shape of object is used.
Easily integrated into current operations, the fluidized bed offers a professional approach for dealing with metal surfaces of any kind.
More importantly, it provides uniform wear resistance and color consistency.
Selecting The Right Powder Coating For Your Project!
As now you are aware of what Powder Coating is, the next step to consider involves selecting a powder coating for your project would include:
Evaluate The Environment:
Depending on where you will be installing or keeping an item, certain powders may not fit.
Due to potentially corrosive environments and/or temperature variations, factors such as these could damage the finish over time.
Consider if the item needs to withstand hot temperatures and cold climates. Most powder coatings have a dry service temperature of up to 300°F.
Some formulations offer further heat resistance up to 500° F. Considering the environment in which your project will be kept or used should be a top priority. Select your coating material accordingly.
Choose The Right Type:
Now, the next step is determining if thermosetting powders are best for you. Thermoplastic powders make more sense for protecting and painting aluminum siding or pool ladders.
Heat-resistant Polyester TGIC powder coated finishes are great options for high temperature areas, like near the kitchen stove. Textile dry coating, a process used to make golf clubs look durable and glossy, offers plenty of types to consider.
Determine The Coating Thickness:
Measured in mils or microns, the coating thickness depends on the substrate you’re powder coating onto. Area coverage and protection requirements for different parts should be considered when selecting the thickness ratio per piece.
For application use, choose the most suitable amount while considering cost factors. To avoid wasting time on over or under-coating, you should consult a professional about the best approach.
Full coverage and protection can be achieved with 60 to 80 microns. Automotive parts or large frames require 120 to 200 microns, making them resistant to common damages in outdoor-exposed areas.
Consider The Color & Finish:
Your chosen color determines the appearance of the completed item, so select a shade wisely. Consider tone coordination with other items and the surrounding environment.
Many different shades and finish types are available, like matte black for a non-reflective look or high gloss colorful finishes attracting attention from afar.
When changing an object’s color, consider the difficulty of removing previous powder coatings before reapplying another.
Improper removal can damage your item permanently, possibly requiring replacement with entirely new parts instead of making small adjustments. Increased costs in terms of both time and money could result if proper care is not taken.
Assess Pre-Treatment Requirements:
Relates to the substrate you’re powder coating and its condition. Consider if there are movable parts that should be incorporated during pre-treatment. Examples include degreasing with a solvent cleaner and using an abrasive media blaster.
Remove any dirtied surface residue which may affect the finished product. Electrostatic cleaning prior to application helps cling particles onto the item more easily.
Finally, you need to sandblast UV-resistant top coatings before the curing process. Ultraviolet radiation can degrade the finish with prolonged outdoor exposure, so protect accordingly.
Choose The Application Method:
Your project and its size will determine the equipment needed for applying powder coatings. An electrostatic spray system can accelerate charging of particles onto the surface. Achieve a super glossy appearance that’s even all over with hand-held applicators or robotic units.
Determine the technical application needs during the planning stage. Airless spray systems can be great options as they apply thicker layers of coatings.
All these coatings are ultra-durable and highly resistant to corrosive elements like water, salt, or acidic compounds.
Damage can occur if not properly prepped and conducted within a short amount of use. Consider proper preparation and installation to ensure durability.
Consider Cost & Performance Tradeoffs:
Depends on the environment your project will be used in after powder coating. Aluminum siding or pool ladders need thermoplastics since they won’t corrode easily due to water exposure.
Matte black automotive wheels require thermosetting powders which may come with higher costs upfront. There may be up-front cost savings, but consider the performance qualities of both materials. Assess how your particular application will benefit from one over another.
Look at long-term maintenance requirements after installing these items into their respective environments. If cost is an issue, consider selecting a more economical material powder. Ponder if it will be suitable to fit your exact needs prior to purchasing.
Powder Coating Step-By-Step Process
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of powder coating on metal, let’s review the steps for completing a successful project!
Selecting an Appropriate Powder Coating Material:
Selecting an appropriate material is the first step in any powder-coated project, taking into consideration the intended purpose and environment.
Recall factors discussed earlier, including color, finish, and thickness. Think about these before settling on one type or brand of additive or polyester resin powder.
There are different techniques for applying the powder to metal such as the fluidized bed.
Depending on your desired level of finish or other project requirements, the particular technique used should be carefully selected; ensure sufficient research is conducted before commencing any work.
Here are some techniques to consider:
Electric gun makes it great for large or general projects with multiple parts and evenly sized products. Additionally, it’s relatively economical compared to other techniques due to its efficient use of material.
Upon completing the process, check for any missed spots or weakly welded joints. Ensure you’re satisfied with the result before proceeding. Finally, begin to cure the powder-coated material.
Parts are immersed in a controlled environment as part of this technique. Charged particles are suspended over heated gas or air, providing greater accuracy and uniformity compared to other methods.
Ideal for intricate designs and awkward shapes that may be difficult to coat, this method surpasses the limitations of electrostatic spray technology.
Some downsides include additional setup time and part surface preparation.
Process complexity and equipment requirements contribute to this approach being somewhat more expensive than other alternatives.
Curing The Coated Metal:
To complete and set your powder-coating material, it must go through a cure. One of several methods can be used, depending on the desired finish and type or brand.
Factors include how quickly results need to be achieved. Techniques can include convection oven curing, infrared curing, or ultraviolet (UV) curing.
Convection Oven Curing:
In this method, the powdered metal is placed into an oven. Great for medium-to-large batches in shorter time frames, it produces consistent results.
Since the heating occurs uniformly throughout its cycle, it is important to be mindful that not all powders are compatible.
Before using, test and adjust settings based on the chosen material to help avoid excessive smoke during the process.
Infrared radiation (IR) is used to complete the curing stage. Depending on its strength and wavelength, it can be more energy-efficient than convection ovens.
When using IR lamps or other radiant solutions, it generally heats up faster, and also releases fewer emissions in comparison.
Always make sure your material is compatible and tested with the feature you’re trying to use ensuring the best results every time.
Ultraviolet (UV) Curing:
Using UV rays, this technique can create a quick-drying powder coat process, and may be more energy efficient than infrared lamps depending on its intensity and wavelengths used.
Processing for short production runs and tight time frames is an effective approach.Ultraviolet radiation doesn’t have issues with heat loss.
Other methods might experience problems when exposed to extreme temperatures or air flow movement inconsistency.
Remember, always check that your additive or polyester resin powder is compatible and tested before use.
Quality Control And Inspection:
Focus on quality control and inspection as the final step in any successful project to ensure complete coverage and satisfactory results throughout all coated pieces. Stopped curing may occur due to environmental conditions during the process.
Any areas needing touch-ups can be added back at this stage. Ensure they comply with intrinsic standards established per individual or project goals. Upon completion, conduct a final inspection of parts for any defects.
Key Advantages Of Powder Coating On Metal!
Understanding the advantages of powder coating can help you determine its suitability for your project.
Powder coatings provide exceptional wear and scratch resistance, making them ideal for long-term use on metal parts, as they adhere directly to surfaces without the need for any primer.
Protective finishes have proven very durable in harsh weather conditions.
When you compare powder coating vs paint, powder coatings last up to four times longer. Most finishes can last up to 10 years.
· Environmental Benefits
Using fewer VOCs, powder coating not only prevents dangerous chemicals from leaching into the ground, but also protects against contamination of water sources and nearby areas.
No hazardous waste is produced during application.
All materials that don’t adhere remain in a dry form during transfer between parts. No further manipulation is required after applying.
Powder coating costs less than traditional methods of coating, such as liquid paint and electroplating.
Minimal cleanup or post-production treatment steps save time and labor during application. Its durable nature means it can last three to four times longer.
A significant difference in terms of repair/replacement cost further down the line is made by this factor, highlighting its importance for consideration.
Powder coatings resist chipping and minor damages, which helps reduce repair costs.
Powder Coatings come in a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes. Different gloss characteristics allow you to create vibrant effects on metal surfaces.
Changing the look and feel of outdated parts is possible. Enhanced protection against corrosion over long periods is provided. Automotive enthusiasts increasingly use this method to customize their vehicles.
· Versatility And Chemistry
Powder Coating is a highly versatile material. You can achieve any desired finish for metal parts, from matte to full satin or gloss. There is no need to sacrifice quality protection against wear and tear. Long periods of use are not a problem.
Resistance properties enable high-temperature application techniques. Strength is preserved even in extreme weather conditions. Outdoor items such as bikes and garbage cans benefit from this choice.
· Resistance To Chemicals
Powder Coating is formulated to resist corrosion from chemicals. Resistance against water damage is provided.
Battery acid, fertilizers, and jet fuel are no match for the coating. Peace of mind is given, knowing your metal parts will remain safe. Extended periods with minimal maintenance are possible.
Applications And Industries Utilizing Powder Coating On Metal
From the automotive industry to furniture and fixtures, many industries utilize this process as part of their production processes or for repairs!
Powder coating creates a durable finish that can withstand harsh weather conditions and corrosion.
Cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles all benefit from this technology to protect them against rust or any other wear and tear caused by outdoor elements.
Engines and exhaust systems have also been coated with powders to improve their longevity without compromising on style. Creatively painted engine covers are just one example.
2. Architectural And Construction
Architectural, engineering, and building industries require reliable surfaces with long lasting properties. Surfaces must be trusted to hold up in the elements for years without fading or corroding over time.
Powder coated metals, such as wrought iron fencing, progress a strong aesthetic value when used for handrails of stairs and balconies. Powder coating on metal benefits the exterior applications most.
Aluminum is the number one choice, being a durable yet lightweight material perfect for façades. Additionally, aluminum frames with powder coating were used in the construction of modern skyscrapers, showcasing a perfect marriage between aesthetics and performance.
3. Furniture And Fixtures
Powder coating on metal techniques is used commonly for furniture. Examples include outdoor or garden décor like benches and patio sets. Interior decorative pieces can also be accentuated using this technique, such as lampshades.
Offering incomparable freedom to designers, these powders enable creative custom finishes without interfering with quality, resulting in aesthetically pleasing and durable outcomes.
4. Consumer Products
Technology can be applied to consumer goods like accessories, toys, or sports equipment. Metal surfaces often require a protective coating from the elements that help them last longer, and their attractive results have boosted sales for many small businesses.
Consumers, much like furniture, can benefit from powders as they serve as perfect tools for bold custom finishes, effectively bringing out the unique design and character of any product.
Troubleshooting Common Powder Coating Issues!
While powder coating can produce an attractive, durable finish to metal products or other items, it is NOT a foolproof process.
Troubleshooting and identifying issues that may arise during the advanced finishing process is critical for achieving quality results. Here are some tips on how to troubleshoot common powder coating issues!
Identify The Issue:
Primer sticking problems or appearance inconsistencies in the final product may occur.
Identifying the type of issue you’re dealing with is crucial, as problems can vary significantly due to the diverse range of powder coating products and processes available.
Assess The Cause Of The Problem:
Identify the issue, such as poor adhesion or gloss issues. Diagnosing the cause of the issue to resolve it accurately is the next step, which involves examining every single stage within the production process.
Consider preparation techniques, powders used, incompatible combinations, curing temperatures, and times. Eliminate variables until pinpointing a potential source that could be attributed to the fault.
Inspect The Equipment:
Common sources of problems can lie within faulty equipment or an improper setup. For example, a gun not operating at peak performance is due to improper adjustments with wrong trigger settings and spray patterns.
Make sure all components involved in powder coating, including guns, filters, and tubing, are checked regularly. Keep them clean for optimal functioning.
Verify The Powder Coating Process:
Consider the type of metal you’re working with, the primer and materials applied prior to powder coating, and how the processes interacted.
By performing a series of analyses, compatibility issues between raw products or contamination caused by improperly cleaned equipment used for various projects can be determined.
Review The Powder Coating Material:
Errors in the coloring process may occur due to incorrect selection from the range of tints available or poor storage of the selected pigment.
Ensure your powder coat is kept under suitable climate conditions and avoid mixing different tones unless specifically requested.
Examine The Powder Coating Application Technique:
Incorrect application techniques might lead to noticeable problems with the finished product’s appearance or functionality.
Pay particular attention when uniformity in the finish is part of the specifications. Ensure spray paths are consistent throughout the production run. Check overlay, powder coverage, and film thickness to validate proper completion.
Check The Curing Process:
Curing may be viewed as an extra step, however it should not become a source of issues. Ensure all parts are handled correctly before being taken into the oven for their time requirement at adequate temperature levels, preferably above 350F (176C).
Temperatures or times below recommendations can result in poor adhesion after the cooling period has elapsed.
Implement Solutions And Preventative Measures:
Having strategies in place for avoiding the same problems in the future is essential, as it helps to prevent any setbacks or further issues from occurring.
Continually monitor each stage of the reduction process and keep documentation of any noticeable issues and solutions.
These approaches ensure optimal results and can help offset maintenance costs. Regularly assess and refine your strategies to maintain the highest quality in your powder coating projects.
We’ve discussed the fundamentals of powder coating on metal, and covered the important steps, advantages, and industrial applications. In short, proper selection and application techniques are essential. Curing processes are integral in creating a successful finish.
Needless to say, these finishes comply with desired functionality and aesthetic specifications. Understanding common issues experienced during this process can help troubleshoot any problems that arise. Utilize powder coating for your next project!
At KDMFab, we specialize in producing quality metal products. We provide powder coating for superior finishes. Our advanced equipment and knowledgeable team can produce a variety of options.
We encourage you to explore the potential of powder coatings on metals. Contact us today for more information. Let us help revolutionize your next finishing project.