What is Powder Coating?
Whether you like it or not, people cannot help but to judge a book by its cover. It’s the first thing that you see and our knee jerk reaction to visual stimuli cannot be helped. That is why it is so important to make a good impression, especially with the finished product that will be on display or delivered to a client. The finish on your product is its cover and it must look good. There are many finishing options but a relatively new one that is increasingly popular is powder coating. Read more to find out what powder coating is and how it can help the finish on everything from MDF to metal fabrication.
Like most innovations, powder coating was developed to be a stronger and tougher finish than conventional paint. The history of powder coating actually has a relatively short story, dating back to the 40s and 50s, although modern powder coating did not emerge until the 1960s. It was in the 1960s that the electrostatic processing of powder coating was created, where the coating is applied electrostatically then cured under heat which allows a “skin” to be created. Before the advent of powder coating, traditional painting methods were still used and they did not bond as well to metal fabrication products. Also, the traditional paint methods could only get so thick before they reached their maximum. Before we get too far down the rabbit’s hole, let’s take a look at how the process of powder coating works.
Although powder coating is commonly used on a wide range of items, it is a favorite for metal fabrication. The first step for powder coating is to apply the powder material to the object. This can be done with a number of different methods including an electrostatic gun or the fluidized bed method, although this is less common. The electrostatic method is done with an electrostatic gun whereby the powder is sprayed onto the metal fabrication objects. This is usually done in a “powder booth” where the objects are suspended in air – somewhat resembling the freezer of a butcher shop. Next, the objects are heated, or “cured,” so the powder melts forming a smooth film around the object that will be very durable and highly resistant to scratches, peeling, cracking, and rust. The objects are then cooled and you are left with a very nice, uniform, and durable finish. The fluidized bed method calls for the objects to be dipped in the powder rather than sprayed which is a less convenient method, and is why it is a less used method.
The advantages of powder coating for metal fabrication items are quite apparent. The coatings are much thicker, the overspray can be recycled which makes the amount of wasted paint almost literally nothing. The equipment is less expensive than conventional painting, there’s less hazardous waste and powder coating is best for achieving uniformity. About the only thing that isn’t optimal about powder coating is that it can’t create as thin of a film as traditional paint.
Powder coating is a great way to give metal fabrication items a seamless, uniform, professional look. Most metal fabrication companies have adopted this method because of the vast benefits that powder coating can provide. If you haven't tried it yet, start asking if items you like were powder coated - chances are they were. Or better yet, try a powder coat finish on your next project.