Have you ever painted an outdoor bench, or other outdoor surface that is exposed to the elements 24/7, only to learn that you have to refresh your handiwork on a regular basis if you want to keep the product looking good? That’s because paint reacts to the sun’s UV rays and other harsh weather, causing bleaching, blistering, cracking, and chalking. Powder coating, on the other hand, is applied electrostatically and then cured under heat for a high-quality durable finish. It’s like a magic coating that, when properly applied and maintained, looks like new for many years to come.
The Powder Coating Process
The powder coating process was invented around 1945 by Daniel Gustin and became popular in America in the 1960s. It works especially well on aluminum. Unlike liquid paint, powder coating is a dry finishing process. A precise formula of ingredients are melted and cooled and then ground into a powder, which is electrostatically applied. There are five basic steps to a commercial powder coating process:
- a multi-stage wash progression to clean the parts that will receive the powder coating and to etch them to ensure that the powder will stick;
- a drying stage at 265 degrees;
- a “painting” stage where the colored powder is applied using powder sprayers;
- a curing stage when products are cured at around 400 degrees;
- and final inspection to ensure the desired finish has been achieved.
Powder Coating Colors
How many colors are available? Well, as many colors as anyone can dream up. That’s because pigment is one of the ingredients in the powder formula and pigment can be translated into any hue. In addition to standard or custom solid colors, decorative designs can also be produced. This requires some additional steps, but the outcome is exceptional. Here’s how it works. If a decorative pattern, say woodgrain, is going to be applied, then a sublimate powder will be used for the base powder coating. A film, with an embedded design created from sublimate ink, will then be wrapped around the product, and any wrinkles will be suctioned out using a special vacuum process. When no air bubbles remain, the product will cure under approximately 400-degree heat. After the product has cooled, the film is removed and the design is now enduringly imprinted in place for a unique look.
Resilience of Powder Coating
Powder coating creates a durable, high-quality finish that is scratch resistant and low maintenance. Will the coating ever come off? Not if it’s properly applied and maintained. However, if you blast it with a power washer at close range with very high pressure, it could affect the integrity of the coating. Since a powder coated surface resists dirt and dust, however, using clean water from a garden hose and a soft-bristled brush is typically all that is needed to keep powder coated surfaces clean. Should a power washer be used, it should be kept at a low pressure (under 2,000 PSI) and reasonable distance for best results.
Challenges of Powder Coating
The equipment required for high-volume manufacturing powder coating is expensive, requires space to set up the various washing, drying, spraying, and curing stations, and necessitates trained laborers. That’s why there are powder coating businesses that have become the go-to experts for delivering this important application.
StruXure, a manufacturer of luxury pergolas and cabanas, has been working with some of the best powder coating companies in the business for the past decade and will continue to do so. However, in order to keep up with demand, particularly for custom orders, in 2020, StruXure built its own powder coating facility at its Dahlonega, Georgia plant. As StruXure’s production increases and new products are developed, the in-house powder coating facility will help the company maintain the ability to respond quickly and seamlessly, particularly for customized orders.
For more information about powder coating, visithttps://www.powdercoating.org.