Powder Coating 101: How Does It Work?
By Jason Helferich
Everybody is talking about the process of powder coating automotive parts. Powder coating has grown in popularity over the past few years for a number of reasons. How many of us see powder coating being used on shows like “American Chopper” or “Overhaulin”? The general public knows from watching these shows that powder coating is out there. But what is powder coating and how exactly is it done? Anybody know?
Preparation is imperative in achieving a quality finish. The item being coated must be completely bare of any paint, dirt, oil, or any other substance. To achieve this, sandblasting equipment is used. If it is not possible to use this equipment, it must be done with chemicals or by hand. The items are then baked to remove any moisture from the metal. After all materials have been stripped off, the item is treated with a degreasing solution to help prevent corrosion.
Powder coating is a process by which selected items are coated with a fine powder of ground resin and pigment, which is basically ground up paint particles that form a powder-like substance. The items being coated are placed on a rack, which grounds the items. A gun is used to spray the powder onto the items. A large oven is then used to heat and cure the coating. Temperatures used to cure the items typically are between 400 and 450 degrees. Heating the items makes the pigments melt, gel, and then cure to form a durable finish. The finished product is a uniform coating. Powder coating can be used on steel, zinc, and aluminum as well as other materials. The quality of the finished product has the ability to outlast and outperform painted parts. A variety of up to a few hundred different colors are available to choose from. It also exceeds paint in resisting acids, solvents, impact, and abrasions.
Powder coating can be used to coat items such as valve covers, wheels, bumpers, trim parts, engine parts, sway bars, coil springs, strut bars, and many items in between. There are many options as to who does the powder coating for you. There are companies in most metropolitan areas that either exclusively powder coat or companies that offer it along with their other services. Online companies also play into the equation with a number offering services as well. There are normally two systems for purchasing powder coated parts. For popular parts, companies may stock core parts available to be coated in a variety of colors. You order the part and ship yours back for a core. For more custom jobs, you must remove the part and ship it to the powder coater. Companies such as Eastwood also sell do-it-yourself kits. These kits start at $99 and you can use an electric oven or toaster oven to bake and cure the finish. An air compressor capable of a 5-10 PSI output is also required.
So the next time you hear about powder coating on TV or anywhere else, you will now have an idea of how that actual process is performed. Powder coating is superior to normal painting if you want a finish that holds up better and lasts longer. Check it out today!!
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