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laser cut metal bracket with custom blue powder coat finishThanks to properties like its durability, strength and adaptability, metal is an obvious solution to many fabrication challenges. Like most building materials, however, metal functions best when it’s combined with other substances. To prevent corrosion, increase longevity and create specific external appearances, expert engineers, designers and fabricators commonly rely on powder coating of metal products. Here are some insights into this fascinating modern process.

The Powder Coat Process Explained

Powder coat pigments begin as dry powders that lack the liquid solvents found in other paints. These coatings, or thermoset powders, are dispensed via nozzles. These devices, commonly referred to as corona guns, give the particles a negative electrical charge as they spray them in the direction of the item to be painted.

Other methods of applying coatings include dipping processes and using electrostatically charged magnetic brushes or rollers. The metal product is electrically grounded so that the difference in charge attracts the powder particles to the item.

Next, the coated component is transported to an oven. There, carefully applied heat causes the pigment to melt, flow and undergo chemical bonding. After a brief baking session, the coating is permanently affixed.

Critical Process Factors

To achieve lasting coatings with the desired properties, fabricators also perform a number of other steps. Before actually applying a coating, they typically treat the product with high-alkaline cleaners, phosphates and other substances designed to ensure adhesion. In some cases, sand, glass beads or cast steel shot are also used to abrade and clean the surface.

These pre-treatment processes are important because they remove grease, dirt and other substances that might cause premature coating degradation. Likewise, the particulars of the baking process, or curing, play critical roles in the final result. Modern fabrication shops employ programmable ovens that can cure different types of coatings at the appropriate temperatures in minimal time.

Why Should You Powder Coat Your Metal Products?

Powder coating methods result in highly durable final products. The advantages are so well-established that in 2010, powder coat jobs accounted for almost $6 billion in global commerce.

Powder coat pigments can resist many chemicals, solvents and abrasives. These coatings can also minimize or completely eliminate VOC off-gassing, so they’re environmentally friendly. The lack of solvents and thinners also means that there are no hazardous byproducts, which is advantageous for those trying to navigate increasingly strict regulations.

The powder coat process used for thermoset pigments can also be modified to accommodate a wide range of other coating types. Epoxies, resins and plastics are all viable coating materials, so it’s easy to prepare your products for specific usage environments. There are countless textures, colors and UV-resistant options to choose from. In other words, these pigments offer more customizable alternatives to conventional paints that require touch-ups and ongoing maintenance.

Choosing a Powder Coat Process Solution

Powder coat pigments are extremely versatile, and so are the available options. Be sure that your fabricator can help you select the best materials and techniques for your products or equipment.

Experience is vital to effective powder coating. Companies that perform fabrication and coating in-house can reduce lead times, lower your per-part costs and avoid wasteful mistakes.

Because they remain invested in your projects from start to finish, comprehensive providers make it much easier to optimize your production process. To learn more about what goes into effective, expedited fabrication and powder coating, get in touch with C R Industries Inc., today.