automotive powder coating on a tuned car engine

Automotive powder coating for protecting the whole vehicle

A vehicle presents a wide range of substrates to be protected and decorated with coatings. From bodywork and bumpers to wheels and suspension components, automotive powder coating is becoming more and more the coating of choice for the industry. It is durable, efficient, environmentally friendly, and attractive. Increasingly the coating industry is turning to greener and more efficient coatings as regulations and attitudes change. Automotive powder coating can be OEM-applied or refinish, with the vast share of the market being OEM coatings.

In this article we take a look at automotive powder coating, both OEM-applied and refinish, and its various benefits and applications. We also take a look at the companies leading the automotive powder coating industry in Canada.

Automotive powder coating process for 4 applications

Powder coating is a coating process where paint is applied to a substrate in the form of a dry powder which cures through baking. Baking causes the dry powder to melt and flow, forming bonds with the substrate and crosslinking to create a hard and resilient barrier. Currently, the OEM and refinish markets for automotive powder coating focus on specific areas. In these areas powder coating is chosen for its powerful durability and toughness. There are both interior and exterior applications for automotive powder coating:

  1. Aftermarket car paint and refinish – A large section of the consumer market for automotive powder coating is aftermarket refinish. Wheels, grilles, carburetor parts, engine casings,  radiators, and plenty more aesthetic details can be powder coated in specialty garages and shops.

    durable subway interiors with automotive powder coating

    Automotive powder coating is used for subway interior due to its durability and decorative properties.

  2. OEM primer and clear coat – As a metal substrate that is exposed to all the elements, corrosion is serious concern for vehicles. As well as a corrosion resistant e-coat, a powder coat primer layer is applied which provides stone chip protection and prevents damage from breaking through to the bare substrate. The final clear coat can also be powder, using the chemical resistant, weather resistant, and UV stable properties to seal and protect the underlying layers.
  3. High temperature powder coating – There are plenty of substrates on a vehicle that are exposed to high heat. To protect these substrates from possible damage, the can be coated with heat-resistant powder coating. The powders are usually epoxy and silicone-based and provide heat resistance for temperatures ranging from 200oC  to 550oC.
  4. Protective underbody coating – The underside of a vehicle is particularly vulnerable to damage and corrosion and it needs to withstand everything the road can throw at it. A powder coat’s corrosion resistant and tough finish protects the underbody from this.

Popping the bonnet – powder and ceramic coating for headers and more

The high heat of engines and engines components, particularly in hard working vehicles and racecars means that heavy duty coatings are needed to protect them. High temperature powder coating is one way of doing this, high temperature ceramics is another. Engine parts and exhausts are commonly given one of these coatings to extend their lifespan and protect them. Ceramic coating for headers are particularly popular. Many body shops who provide powder coating services will also apply these coatings.

Why vehicle powder coating is becoming more beneficial than liquid painting

Coating a vehicle is a complex process. With many different substrates with different needs, a vehicle requires a variety of specially formulated coatings in order to perform at its best for the longest possible time. The automotive industry still predominantly relies on liquid paints for its coatings, although changing regulations and more efficient coatings are having some effect.

Three of the reasons for using a powder coat rather than a liquid paint are:

  1. Performance – Powder coatings are durable and more resistant to corrosion, scratches, abrasion, and damage than liquid paint. They also have excellent colour retention, gloss retention, and do not run or drip.
  2. Eco-friendliness – Unlike liquid paints, powder coating emits zero or near-zero VOCs, and, because overspray can be collected and recycled, no hazardous wastes. It is also solvent-free.
  3. Efficiency – Single coat applications, thin or thick film applications, a fast cure time, and lower material and operational costs are all benefits to powder coating.

The Canadian and global automotive powder coating market

Automotive coatings is a big industry, and many manufacturers and companies operate across Canada. AkzoNobel’s powder coating brand Interpon manufacture a product series designed especially for wheel manufactures, called Interpon A4000. Axalta produces powder coatings for transportation through their brand Alesta. This includes bodywork, interior plastic coatings and special coatings for commercial vehicles, buses, and trains. PPG is another big name in automotive powder coatings, with OEM automotive and transportation coatings. The top five automotive refinish coatings companies are Axalta Coatings (Cromax, Spies Hecker, and Standox), AkzoNobel (Sikkens, Dynacoat, and Wanda), BASF (Glasurit, LIMCO), PPG Industries, and Sherwin-Williams.

The powder coating industry is driving innovation in automotive coatings, chiefly as a greener, lower-carbon footprint, more cost efficient alternative to liquid paint. AkzoNobel and Citroën recently partnered in producing the first ever full body monocoat powder coating to be used on a passenger vehicle in Europe. The matt black textured coating is still in design stages, but the face of automotive powder coating is changing.

Let us connect you with a local vehicle powder coating specialist

The top companies form partnerships with auto manufacturers for OEM application, or provide refinish paints to applicators, working together to provide customers with the best possible portfolio of products and services. If you have an automotive powder coating project and would like to be connected with one of our partners, get in touch! Our experts are here to help. Just click the “Request a Quote” button below and take advantage of our 100% free quote service. Let us, in cooperation with our coating partners, find the coating solution for your needs.