Powder coating – the electrostatic process of coating metal with an organic powder – is environmentally friendly, durable, and can cover almost any metal surface. But it wasn’t always this way. Powder coating has a complicated history that stretches back over 70 years.
Here we take you on a brief journey through this history to show just how far the industry has come. And if you need your own coatings, Minnesota Industrial Coatings offers state-of-the-art powder coating and finishing services. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
Over 70 years ago, the history of powder coating began. Initially, in the 1940s, coatings were flame-sprayed onto metal surfaces, but there was growing concern in Europe over the environmental repercussions of liquid solvent pollution. In the early 1950s, German scientist Dr. Erwin Gemmer began to develop a solution.
Called the “fluidized-bed application,” it involved heating or melting thermoplastic resins so that they would bond to metals. It was a far more efficient process than flame-spraying. Gemmer applied for a patent in 1953, and it was issued in September 1955.
The Fluidized Bed Process
The development of the fluidized bed application process was one of the most significant advancements in the history of powder coating. For the following decade, the approach was adopted around the world. It provided a thickness of 6 to 20 mils and was used primarily for electrical insulation.
The coatings protected metals from abrasion and corrosion. At the time, the materials used for coating included chlorinated polyether, polyethylene, plasticized PVC, nylon 11, CAB, and polyester.
However, by the end of the 1960s, new technologies were being developed to meet commercial demands.
The EPS Process
Between 1962 and 1964, a new technique called electrostatic processing was commercialized. It used spray guns to spray powder particles over metals, almost like liquid. Afterward, as with powder coating today, the metal would be heated or “cured” to bind the coating and metal together.
This development was created partly to meet commercial demands but somewhat because concern remained over the environmental effects of solvents in liquid paints.
This new way of coating metals massively reduced the amount of solvent waste, so it was a huge step forward in the history of powder coating. Between 1966 and 1973, thermosetting resins were also developed and can still be found today.
In the history of powder coating, environmental pressures played a crucial role in technological advancements. In the United States, The Los Angeles Air Pollution Control District Rule 66 was passed in July 1966, restricting the emission of solvents. Then the federal Clean Air Act was passed in 1970 for regulating the emission of hazardous air pollutants.
As a result, there was an acceleration in thermoset decorative powder coatings research, and more resources were invested in developing materials, equipment, and dry powder applications.
In the 1980s, powder coating was more widely adopted in manufacturing, particularly in the United States and Japan.
Looking to the Future
Since the 1980s, the powder coating process has constantly been advancing. Today’s powder coatings contain no solvents and minimal (and often no) volatile organic compounds (VOC). This greatly benefits the environment.
Over the last 30-40 years, liquid coatings have continued to be replaced by modern powder processes. Today there are also many more types of resin systems and crosslinkers. Trends suggest that coatings and application equipment will become even more sophisticated and efficient in the future.
Advancements in automotive and appliance production play a key role in propelling the powder coating industry forward, as new technologies are made to meet increasing commercial demands. The history of powder coating is the story of considerable evolution.
The Industry Today
As you can see from this brief history of powder coating over the last 70 years, the industry has undergone considerable changes as processes have developed to meet expanding commercial requirements. Technological advancements have improved finishing and allowed for much higher levels of particle control. Most importantly, the process is now much more environmentally-friendly.
Minnesota Industrial Coatings only offers the highest-quality powder coating and finishing services. The team is with you every step from planning through shipping to ensure the best customer experience. Contact Minnesota Industrial Coatings to learn more.