When customers ask us how to help the corrosion and breakdown of metals on their projects, we get excited. We get to tell them all about coatings.
And, well, we may go on while answering common questions: What is powder coating? Can you powder coat aluminum or only certain metals? Can you paint over a powder coat? Today, we wanted to share some of those answers with you.
At MIC, we provide consistent, high-quality industrial coatings, including powder coating and electrocoating (e-coating). We specialize in handling large parts on quick turnaround and can affordably coat tiny components or low-quantity orders. We also perform custom-masking.
MIC carefully guides each customer’s project through planning, coating, testing, packaging, and shipping. Our coating experts work closely with each customer, using leading coatings technologies and eco-sensitive, quality-driven processes. Contact MIC about your project today!
What Is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is a dry finishing process. It has become increasingly popular as a metal finishing process since its introduction in the 1960s in North America.
Powder coating represents over 15% of the total industrial finishing market. Thus, chosen for a wide array of products from household appliances to automobile parts to heavy-duty equipment.
We’ve found that more customers specify powder coatings for a high-quality, durable finish. Powder coating is well known for providing high-quality finishes in terms of both functionality and overall look. Powder coating is available in a practically limitless range of colors and textures.
The protective powder coating layer offers a resilient coating to materials that need corrosion protection.
The powder coating finishes are not only durable, but their use is extremely flexible. Professionals use these coating finishes on different surfaces, including metal, concrete, steel, and plastic, for indoor and outdoor applications.
The powder itself can be any number of products: acrylics, polyester, polyester-epoxy, polyurethane, and straight epoxy. This finishing process yields a thick, hard finish that is tougher than conventional paints.
While all are applied (somewhat) similarly, powder coating can come in a wide variety of colors, chemical compounds, and thicknesses.
What Is The Powder Coating Process
Powder coatings are very similar to polymer resin systems, combined with pigments, curatives, flow modifiers, leveling agents, and other additives. These ingredients are melt-mixed, cooled, and ground into a uniform powder, similar to baking flour.
Electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) applies the powder coating to a base or substrate. EST utilizes a spray gun, which uses an electrostatic charge to the powder particles, causing an attraction between the particles and the grounded part.
The electrostatic stage of powder coating greatly increases the coating process’s productivity and efficiency by nearly 95% over wet painting. This process wastes less paint, and the metal object becomes fully coated.
After application of the powder, the parts go into a curing oven. With the added heat (as high as 400 degrees), the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, resulting in high cross-link density. These molecular chains are very breakdown-resistant.
UV light may be used in addition to or replacing curing ovens. Powder coating finishes can be applied to non-metallic substrates, such as plastics and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
No matter which application process, powder coatings are tough, easy to use, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly!
Can You Powder Coat Aluminum?
Virtually all metals can be powder coated because metals can hold an electrostatic charge. That electrostatic charge is necessary for the powder coating material to adhere.
Additionally, any high temperatures used during the curing portion of the coating process aren’t high enough to be detrimental to most metals.
Some other materials, such as plastics and other materials, may not be powder coated because of the electrostatics. Also, plastics may not be able to withstand the heat of the curing process via the oven. In these cases, special powder coatings are used and cured with UV light to avoid the high temperatures.
Can You Paint Over Powder Coat?
Used together (e-coat base with powder topcoat), you get the best of both worlds! We’re talking quality, beautiful finishes, with almost unlimited color options and unmatched corrosion resistance, even under some of the harshest conditions!
When your product needs the absolute best protection, we utilize both processes. This combination ensures the best corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, scratch resistance, chip resistance, and overall-wearing surface available!
The Benefits Of Powder Coating
You’ll find powder coating applied to products you come into contact with every day. Powder coating protects the toughest machinery, as well as household items. It has several benefits, which makes it an excellent choice for metal fabrication and finishing.
Here are points you may want to consider when choosing a finish:
Coating a metal is a popular method of improving corrosion resistance. Powder coating results in a thick finish on metal products, which can be more durable and longer-lasting than conventional painting.
Applying a coating is often more cost-effective when compared to alternatives, such as using a corrosion-resistant alloy. For this reason, these coatings have become very common, with one of the most popular methods being powder coating.
With these finishes, the upfront investment may seem significant. Over time, however, the cost is much lower compared to other different types of finishes.
Powder coatings offer a more durable finish than paint while still providing a very attractive finish. Powder-coated products are more resistant to diminished coating quality due to any impact, moisture, chemicals, ultraviolet (UV) light, and other weather extremes. In turn, powder coatings reduce the risk of scratches, chipping, abrasions, corrosion, fading, and other wear issues.
Easy To Clean
It’s easy for professionals to achieve a smooth, polished look when powder coating metals. This smooth finish repels chemicals, moisture, and other elements that make it easy to clean.
Powder coating is an environmentally-safe finishing process because it produces few volatile organic compounds, plus it is recyclable and reusable.
Thermoplastic coatings can be reshaped very easily, unlike thermoset coatings. The powder is precise, resulting in minimal wastage. This precision is different from painting, where you can experience a lot of overspray and wastage.
The fact that powder coatings don’t need solvents is also a major benefit for the environment. Powder coating processes do not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may harm the environment.
No VOCs means that it’s safer to use, and even though wearing protective gear is still recommended, it does not pose as much of a health threat as other finishing processes.
Powder coating is typically a one-coat finish. Because of this one-coat finish, the process can be quite quick and easy.
Powder coatings create the most even, finished surfaces (horizontal and vertical surfaces) because the powder is sprayed and heated across without any drips.
Powder coatings can include multiple, custom finishing colors and textures. The powders sprayed onto the item can be expertly manipulated.
How Long Does Powder Coating Last?
The powder coating’s lifespan will depend on several factors, including:
- the quality of preparation,
- the type of powder coating used,
- and the environment in which the product lives.
Powder coating finishes can last up to twenty years. However, consistent use, exposure to UV light, and weather may break down finishes faster.
Different powder coatings also have varying lifespans. Layers that have fluoropolymers and urethanes last longer. Designed to withstand extreme conditions, they are better suited for outdoor products.
On the other hand, epoxy coatings last very long indoors. Once exposed to the outdoors, however, epoxies break down faster.
Additional Alternatives To Powder Coating
We’ve already discussed electrocoating, so we’ll skip that one here. But, to recap, it is an alternative to powder coating or in addition to powder coating.
Paint is the traditional coating approach, but it comes with multiple limitations. Powder coating is more advanced than wet painting. It pays off with improved durability, a reduced environmental impact, and a high-quality appearance.
The wet painting process is accomplished by thoroughly cleaning an object before wet-blasting liquid paint to an even thickness of approximately 15-20 micrometers. The wet paint is applied until the product is evenly coated with the desired thickness of the paint.
There are two major disadvantages to using wet paint. First, painting is not as durable. Wet paint can require maintenance and even refinishing or repainting. Second, wet painting can require multiple applications to get an even, unmarred finish. Because wet paint begins with a liquid, it can be tricky to guarantee the perfect finish.
What Is DIY Powder Coating?
You can accomplish a DIY powder coating project, but it takes a LOT of equipment and expertise to make it happen. Even more to make it happen perfectly and precisely! You need the right spray gun applicator and the correct baking oven, not to mention experimenting with all of the finishes to make sure your colors come outright.
Or, you can cut out all of that work – and trust the professionals!
Powder coating looks great. And it lasts a long, long time. In addition to its durability, powder coating is an attractive choice due to its environmental advantages. Contact MIC about your powder coating project today!