Powder Coating 101 Cindy's blog July 11, 2017

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As all of you know, Calstone is having a new state-of-the-art paint booth built in the manufacturing area. It is a powder coating system and is high tech with all of it’s latest technology that one has not been built to this scale before. The construction is taking longer than anticipated but we hope to have it up and running, with all of the kinks worked out, soon. In the meantime, I thought I would research if this new booth will be more environmentally friendly than our traditional paint booth. I was very happy with what I found out,  and then decided that you might be interested in how our new powder coating system will actually work and it’s environmental impact.

Welcome to powder coating 101!

Powder coating is a dry finishing process that has become extremely popular since its introduction in North America over in the 1960s.  Calstone has been experimenting with this system for years and only now felt the process was up to our rigorous standards. We cannot offer a Lifetime Guarantee if we have to worry that our paint will chip! Representing over 15% of the total industrial finishing market, powder is used on a wide array of products. More and more companies specify powder coatings for a high-quality, durable finish, allowing for maximized production, improved efficiency, and simplified environmental compliance.  Used as functionally protective and decorative finishes, powder coatings are available in an almost limitless range of colors and textures, and technological advancements have resulted in excellent performance properties.

How Powder Coating Works

Powder coatings are based on polymer resin systems, combined with curatives, pigments, leveling agents, flow modifiers, and other additives.  These ingredients are melt mixed, cooled, and ground into a uniform powder similar to baking flour.  A process called electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) is typically used to achieve the application of the powder coating to a metal substrate.  This application method uses a spray gun, which applies an electrostatic charge to the powder particles, which are then attracted to the grounded part.  After application of the powder coating, the parts enter a curing oven where, with the addition of heat, the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, resulting in high cross-link density. These molecular chains are very resistant to breakdown.   Our booth will be totally automated so the raw product will go in and come out finished. An  automated powder coating line’s products are usually loaded onto the conveyor at a set location and move through each stage, where either manual operators or automated devices clean and prep the parts and apply powder to them. Once coated, the parts move through the curing oven and then cool as they travel along the conveyor to a point where they can be unloaded.

Durability of Powder Coating

Powder coating is a high-quality finish found on thousands of products you come in contact with each day.  Powder coating protects the roughest, toughest machinery as well as the household items you depend on daily.  It provides a more durable finish than liquid paints can offer, while still providing an attractive finish.  Powder coated products are more resistant to diminished coating quality as a result of impact, moisture, chemicals, ultraviolet light, and other extreme weather conditions. In turn, this reduces the risk of scratches, chipping, abrasions, corrosion, fading, and other wear issues: all qualities a Lifetime Guarantee needs!

It’s tough. It looks great. And it lasts a long, long time.  In addition to being durable, powder coating is an attractive choice due to environmental advantages.

Better for the earth

There are many environmental advantages of powder coating as well. Since there are no solvents or VOCs there is no damage to the environment during application. Powder coating is a clean process, allowing exhaust air from the coating booth to be returned to the plant, and less oven air is exhausted to the outside. Heating and cooling costs are eliminated for make-up air and the cost for maintaining oven temperatures is minimized.

The waste is minimal, not hazardous and can be disposed in landfill. Normally wet paint contains harmful chemicals that have been proven to deplete the ozone and produces hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of in a sometimes inappropriate manner.

Since powder is considered inert and does not require special handling or disposal, powder coating supplies are much safer to handle and isn’t hazardous to retouch. Fixing a mistake is also much easier (provided you catch it before curing). Instead of using harsh chemicals, if you find a mistake on a powder coated part, you can simply wipe the part clean or used compressed air to remove the uncured powder and reapply it. Any waste powder can be swept up and handled without special safety equipment.

So now Calstone can look forward to doing much larger volumes once the paint booth is completed and use it knowing it is better for the environment. We continue on our sustainable path!