Powder coating has become increasingly popular over the years as an alternative to wet paint for several reasons. Not only does it result in a more polished finish, but it is also more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient.
While powder coating works well on several types of metal surfaces, there are some exceptions. What metals cannot be powder coated, and why? Knowing the best (and worst) options will make your project less stressful and more successful.
The reason why the powder coating process isn’t ideal for some metals has to do with an electrostatic charge. Learning how the process of powder coating has evolved and how it works will help you understand the best options for your next project. Contact us when you are ready to start.
The Evolution of Powder Coating
Powder coating first emerged in the late 1940s using a method called flame-spraying. Over the next decade, the process of powder coating evolved to use fluidized-bed applications rather than a flame-spray technique.
A crucial turning point came in the 1960s when public interest in the environment peaked. New, innovative technologies began focusing on how to make processes more environmentally friendly.
The electrostatic spray was invented during this decade. It involved charging and then spraying powder particles onto a surface.
This method made powder coating more prevalent due to its efficiency, ecological friendliness, and superior results. Today, powder coating continues to rely on the hallmark innovation of the electrostatic spray technique. It’s also still a wonderful option for those interested in sustainability and greener construction efforts.
How Does Powder Coating Work?
The first step in the powder coating process is to have powder that is electrostatically charged. It’s this quality that attracts the fine powder to grounded metal surfaces before the curing process begins.
After the powder particles stick to the metal, they melt and become exposed to high heat in an oven during the curing process.
The powder cannot stick to metals and other materials that can’t hold an electrostatic charge. Moreover, the extreme heat is yet another reason why some metals aren’t good candidates for powder coating.
Metals that are great for powder coating include the following:
- Steel alloys
- Stainless steel
- Galvanized steel
- Mild steel
- Electroplated steel
In general, as long as a material or surface has electrical conductivity, it can receive powder coating.
So, What Metals Cannot Be Powder Coated and What About Non-metals?
Metals that are not electrically conductive, like those that use certain fillers, cannot be powder coated. Additionally, the following materials may pose an issue.
Though you can technically powder coat many types of wood, this material has many limitations. For best results, you’ll want to choose a wood-like material that is electrostatic, such as medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
In addition, opting for a lower oven temperature can make powder coating possible for wood materials.
Glass is another tricky material to use with powder coating. First, high temperatures can present an issue.
As for electrical conductivity, sometimes it’s possible to attach another material to the glass to make it easier to powder coat. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult with our experts.
Plastics are poor electrical conductors because they’re insulators, which means electricity cannot go through them.
Advantages of Powder Coating
There are several exciting advantages of using the powder coating process for your industrial application needs.
Unlike wet paint, powder coating doesn’t waste spray or pollute the air with volatile compounds. It’s a safer option that doesn’t pose health risks associated with other finishes.
You will save on costs with powder coating because it’s a quicker process than other finishes require. Powder also costs less than traditional wet paint.
The curing process allows the powder to create chemical bonds that make it last a long time. Surface coatings make materials more resistant to scratches, flakiness, and corrosion.
Powder coating gives you more options and flexibility when it comes to unique color combinations. We can easily match your texture and finish while offering you the exact blend you desire.
After melting, the powder becomes solid again. This prevents any dripping or uneven application like other paint processes.
You won’t need to do much in terms of cleaning for powder-coated metals. There’s no need for solvents or other types of chemical cleaners.
Generally, some wiping down with a simple solution of soap and water is enough. The highly resistant nature of powder coating also means you don’t have to worry about things like rust or corrosion.
Powder coating provides you with a clean, smooth finish that is hard to beat. Because it repels the elements and moisture, that also means less work in keeping the shiny, polished look.
E-coating stands for electric coating. It refers to an immersion process that attaches wet paint to metal using electrical currents.
With e-coating, the paint particles are suspended in fluid. Metal parts with an opposite charge become submerged into the liquid, attracting the paint particles.
The application of the ideal voltage creates the right paint thickness and guarantees a smooth, precise finish. The result is a quality paint film of just the right thickness on your metal parts.
If you want the ultimate polished look on your metal, you can achieve it by combining e-coating with a powder coating finish. Located in Princeton, Minnesota, we’re one of a few companies that offer this stunning quality combo.
Plan Your Next Project
There’s a lot of innovation and technology behind powder coating. At the same time, it’s a simple and effective process that can make any residential or commercial project look great and stand the test of time.
Don’t hesitate to contact our experts at Minnesota Industrial Coatings (MIC). MIC is part of the Elemet Group and specializes in powder coating and e-coating for all your industrial needs. Whether you’re interested in learning more about powder coating for your project or you’d like to contact our experts about planning and preparing your project, we’re here for you.
Fill out our estimate request form to get started.