A guide to powder coating
Powder coating has grown into a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. It is a part of our lives every day, coating everything from household items and bicycles to heavy duty machinery. Its popularity comes down to two things: protection and style. As a coating method it is flexible, durable, highly protective, and its strengths are not at the cost of its appearance. Powder coating comes in a wide range of colours and finishes to ensure your project looks and performs exactly as you need.
This article will outline the advantages, uses, and process of powder coating, as well as where you will find powder coating equipment, applicators and suppliers in Canada.
The powder coating process from preparation to curing
Powder coating is a process where paint is applied to a substrate in powder form. Usually a paint is a binder and a pigment suspended in a liquid solvent, but a powder coat is solvent free, it is the binder and pigment blended into a fine powder. The application process can be broken into 3 steps: substrate preparation/pre-treatment, powder application, and curing.
1. Substrate preparation/pre-treatment
The correct preparation of the substrate is paramount in any coating application. Firstly, remove all oil, grease, dirt, grime and ensure that the part is completely clean. Then the part is stripped – this removes previous coatings. Finally the part is sandblasted. This stage cleans the part down to bare metal and creates a texture on the substrate which allows the powder coating to adhere to it. After a final clean the part is ready. This step is slightly different depending on the substrate.
2. Powder application
Powder coating is applied through one of two methods: electrostatic spraying, and fluidised bed. The electrostatic spray process applies the powder coating powder through a specialty spray gun which gives the powder an electrostatic charge. This causes the powder to stick to the grounded part. These powders are used for instance by the appliances industry. In the fluidised bed process, the part is heated and dipped into a hopper filled with fluidised powder. The heat melts the powder coating powder onto the part immediately, though a post cure may still be needed. Thermoplastics are less common, yet they are present in the automotive industry and other industries that deal with mass production.
The final step is to bake the powder coat, causing it to melt, flow, and form a continuous liquid film. This ensures an even coverage over the part. Depending on the type of powder, there is either a further step for curing (for thermosetting powders), or the process stops here (for thermoplastic powders). Thermosetting powders undergo chemical crosslinking when heated and will not melt again, where thermoplastics do not crosslink and will melt again if heated. A properly cured thermosetting powder is tough and impact resistant – like fusion bonded epoxy.
Why to choose powder coat for your project
Nowadays, powder coating is suitable for a wide range of materials and purposes including metals, glass, MDF, and even wood and plastics. Powder coating has many features and benefits that make it the coating of choice. Just a few of these are:
Durability: It is more resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, and wearing than other finishes.
- Appearance: Unlimited colour and finish choice (including smooth, textured, gloss, matt, iridescent, glitter, and candy) with thicker applications that liquid coatings and no running or sagging. Therefore powders are used for coating consumer goods such as furniture and appliances.
- Environmentally friendly: Solvent-free, very low/zero VOC, and excess powder can be recovered and reused, so minimal waste and under 1% material loss.
- Cost efficiency: It is cheaper than liquid paint, and is a one coat application with low operation costs.
- Flexibility: Suitable for a wide range of materials and purposes including metals, glass, MDF, and even wood and plastics.
Powder coating suppliers, companies and prices in Canada
Powder coating is generally charged by surface area of the part to be coated. Different finishes and colours are priced differently, and the type of job will also be reflected in the prices – wheels or rims for example may be done per wheel, where a railing is charged by length. The average 13″ wheel powder coat will cost you $60-100, where a fence may cost $15 per linear foot.
If you would like more information about powder coating, or need a powder coating contractor for a project, contact us! Our experts are here to help. Just use the “Request a quote” button at the bottom of this article and take advantage of 100% free quoting service. Whether you need a powder supplier, like AkzoNobel, or a local expert, we can make the connection for you.
How to powder coat at home: Buying powder coating equipment
Whether you are wondering how to powder coat at home or thinking to set up your own business, there are many pieces of equipment required for a complete powder coating facility. These range from sandblasting boxes or rooms and curing ovens at the large scale end to hanging racks and a powder coating gun at the smaller. If you wish to buy powder coating powder and powder coating equipment there are many suppliers operating across Canada. The cost of equipment varies by scale and quality. A complete powder coating gun kit including hooks, air line, tapes and powder cups can cost $650. A powder coating gun system with a powder fluidising drum can cost $5,000.
The cost of powder is calculated by the pound, with greater quantities charged at lower rates. The less common or more specialised a colour, the more expensive it is. An average powder might cost $15-20 per pound, but can be anywhere up to $50 a pound.
Whether a professional business or a hobbyist wondering how to powder coat at home, there are companies and services in Canada for you. Given that powder coat is long-lasting, easy-to-apply, durable, protective, and attractive, it is no surprise. To find out how you can use powder coating for your project, contact us!