Did you know that the industrial powder coating market should be worth $19.9 billion by 2027? That impressive figure is based on a compound annual growth rate in the industry of 7.0% between 2020 and 2027.
It’s not a huge surprise, though, since industrial powder coatings are among the strongest and most durable ways to coat metal parts—ranging from heavy industrial machinery to exercise equipment.
Keep reading to learn more about powder coating technology, its benefits (and a few drawbacks), and its applications.
What Is Industrial Powder Coating?
Powder coating begins with a free-flowing, dry powder that, unlike liquid paint, is applied without using evaporating solvents. The process produces a hard finish and is more durable than with conventional industrial painting techniques.
Powder coatings are used mainly to protect protect metal parts and products, such as:
- Household appliances
- Fitness and exercise equipment
- Metal door “paint”
- Home hardware
- Automobile, motorcycle, and bicycle parts
- Stadium lighting
- Agricultural equipment
- Mass-produced hotel/motel lights
- Irrigation equipment
- Windows and doors
You can even apply powder coatings to reinforce materials like glass and certain plastics.
What Is the Powder Coating Process?
Powder coatings consist mainly of polymer resins. These are combined with curatives, pigments, leveling agents, flow modifiers, and a few other substances. They are melt-mixed, cooled, and ground into a powder resembling kitchen flour in texture.
There are two common ways of carrying out the powder coating manufacturing process and several less common ones.
Electrostatic Spray Deposition (ESD)
ESD is typically used to apply the untreated powder coating to a metal surface using a specific spray gun called a corona gun. The tiny particles are then electrostatically charged to adhere temporarily to the object to be coated.
Following this process, the powder-covered items enter a curing oven where heat is applied. Next, the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, which results in high cross-link density and molecular chains that resist breakdown.
Fluidized Bed Coating
ESD is the most common among a few different method of applying powders. The second most common is fluidized bed coating.
This process deals with coatings between 10-15 mils to achieve a final thickness dependent on the particular item’s temperature and the powder’s dip time. When applied correctly, the thickness is within the 8-125-mil range.
Other Powder Coating Techniques
There are other, less common powder coating techniques as well. They include:
- Electrostatic fluidized bed
- Electrostatic (Corona) Spray
- Triboelectric/tribostatic pray
- Electrostatic disc
- Tunnel coaster
- Flame spray
- Plasma spray
- Electromagnetic brush
You can see from the above-described industrial powder coating materials and manufacturing techniques that creating these durable and protective surface coverings take special equipment and the training to use it competently.
Clearly, powder coating is not something to DIY!
The Properties of Industrial Powder Coating
Powder coating can retain its strong finish for up to two decades, depending on how the item to be coated has been pre-treatment and the type of powder used.
Pre-treating an object’s surface for powder-coating means cleaning it thoroughly and ensuring that no old finishes remain. Not doing this can easily damage the finish.
The material make-up of the powder also plays a critical role in the durability of the powder coating. The powders typically used in modern powder coatings often represent a mix of epoxy, polyester, fluoropolymers, and urethanes.
Each of these materials has specific strengths that complement the others. For example, epoxy is exceptionally durable, whereas polyester gives the item a pleasant appearance.
Thus, the object to be coated and its planned uses make a big difference in the materials selected.
We should point out that, over the years, since the 1955 patenting of the earliest version of powder-coating technology, ingredients have shifted due to both subsequent chemical research and the discovery of toxic properties in those in use at the time.
What Makes Industrial Powder Coating So Popular?
Industrial coatings surpass other industrial painting processes for several reasons. These are as follows:
Industrial Powder Coatings Perform Reliably
The thermal bonding process described above makes powder coatings resistant to:
- Harsh weather
- Corrosive chemicals
- Metal corrosion (rusting)
- Scratching and chipping
- And much more
And since powder-coated items don’t drip or run, and the colors stay vibrant, the powder-coating process’s outcome should be a durable, lasting, and attractive finish.
Powder Coatings Reduce Manufacturing Costs
Because powder coatings cover more area than most other metal finishes, using them can reduce labor costs, lower energy costs, and cut back on waste. Of course, these benefits pass savings on to consumers.
They Increase Workplace Safety
Most people are well aware that most paint contains carcinogenic ingredients, is flammable, and contains VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds). Powder-coating materials, on the other hand, have no solvents and are mostly VOC-free.
They Are Good for the Environment and Those Who Inhabit It
Powder meets the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air and water pollution control standards. It is naturally clean process since overspray can be reused easily. Moreover, no toxins enter the ecosystem from the application of powder coatings.
They Make Everyday Products Bright and Colorful
Thanks largely to using polyester in the powder “recipe,” the powder coating process’s final product can add a certain aesthetic appeal to the environment where it’s used. If something looks good, people tend to take good care of it.
A Few Drawbacks to Industrial Coatings That Use Plastic Powders
Overall, the industrial powder coating process has been a boon to industry and the products we use every day, whether directly or indirectly. However, there are still some limitations. For instance:
- The number of materials that can withstand the necessary heat is limited.
- The smaller the piece, the harder it is to make the coating thin enough.
- The larger the item, the longer the drying and curing time.
- Start-up costs can be high.
All in all, though, we think industrial powder coating is a terrific way to give newly manufactured products the strength and durability they need.
Just Try to Scratch Our Powder Coatings!
We hope this article has convinced you of the many benefits of industrial powder coating. We don’t want to address only its strength and durability but also its environmental protection qualities and the efficiency it lends to the manufacturing process.
Please don’t take our word for it on the durability of our industrial coatings, either. Just find a metal tool or piece of household equipment and try scratching with your fingernail. If the nail simply slides over the surface, you’ll know you have something with powder coating.
If you need industrial powder coating for a product you make—or any of our services, for that matter, please contact us. We’ll see what we can do to help!