Here at Vibrant Coatings Ltd we have one of the largest capacities available in the Midlands. Our ovens can take parts 9.5m long x 3m wide x 2.5m tall and up to 3t in weight! We are not your usual ‘trade coater’ – we offer a premium service including:
Which is best, to paint or to powder coat? What’s the best finish for your metal fabrication? Why would you choose industrial powder coating finishes over industrial spray painting?
Wet spray paint is a more traditional approach with various limitations. Powder, on the other hand, is a more technologically advanced approach, offering improved durability, a reduced environmental impact, and a higher quality appearance.
Dry powder for coating is available in many different materials, the most common is polyester or epoxy (both usually qualicoat approved). It is applied as a dry powder through an electrostatic coating process, then cured with heat in an oven. This form of coating is best known for providing high-quality finishes and providing a robust and flexible finishing solution. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications, and it’s one of the most cost-effective finish options.
Thermosets and thermoplastics are two very different types of powder coatings.
Thermoset are the most commonly used. Thermoset powder forms a chemical bond once cured, making it a permanent coating solution – it does not turn back to a liquid if heated again. This does mean it cannot be recycled, but it does allow it to be used in areas exposed to high heat – the chemical bond prevents it from melting away. Thermoset powders are also cheaper in comparison to thermoplastics.
Thermoplastic powder becomes liquid and very soft when heated in the curing oven. This eliminates the chemical bonding process. Due to this, it makes the coating both reversible and reusable. Thermoplastics tend to give a thicker coating film and therefore offers a very durable finish compared to thermosets. As they are so durable, they can be used for a variety of things from metal fabrications, automotive parts, and even white goods / refrigerators.
The first step of the coating process is preparation. This is the most important step in achieving the ultimate finish. This step determines how well the powder will adhere to the substrate material. There are multiple options for cleaning and preparing the surface in readiness for the powder. One option is a chemical process where a degreaser and/or phosphate is used, followed by a rinse in water. Depending on the part to be powder coated, shot-blasting is also another method used to prepare the surface for large powder coating.
Other preparation methods may be used, but they are usually for specific projects and can be tailored to suit any special requirements.
The powder which is used in powder coating services comprises of a polymer resin, colour pigments, curing agent, flow modifiers, levelling agents and other additives. All the ingredients are mixed and melted together – once cooled, this forms a large solid block which is then ground down into a powder.
Dry coating requires an electric charge to attract the powder to the metal. Here at Vibrant Coatings, we use the top of the range Gema Optiflex powder coating guns. The system applies a positive charge at the tip of the gun which then accelerates the powder towards the negatively charged part. This is different to the usual spray-painting methods which require solvents and additives to give good adhesion. Once heated the chemical bonding process strengthens the layer to give a robust high-quality finish.
Just like with wet paint, multiple layers can be used to get the desired finish and thickness. Thicker coatings usually improve longevity and offer increased protection against the weather. Powder coating for metal is ideal for protecting it, as it repels corrosive materials such as chemicals and water, whist offering an aesthetic appearance.
Industrial powder coating is arguably the most durable coating you could use as a finish. It can be used on various surfaces, not just metal! Due to the chemical bonding, it offers a superior finish which makes it suitable for machinery and everyday items. It will also cope well with extreme weather and physical impart – making it resistant to scratches, chips and abrasions.
When done professionally, the coating can last up to 20 years. This will depend on several key factors which include the method and correct preparation, type of powder used and the environment in which the product is used. Exposure to UV light and use outdoors will break the coating down faster. Different coatings also have varying lifespans – here at Vibrant Coatings we will recommend the best type of powder to suit each individual application.
Advantages Of Powder Coating
Powder coating is an excellent choice for any metal fabrication. The main advantage is its unquestionable durability, but that’s not all that you should consider when choosing a finish.
Powder coating finishes are one of the best finishing solutions when it comes to coating metal fabrications. If you haven’t used it before them, you will be surprised with the results. If you’d like to see the benefits of powder coating for steel and other metal fabrications, get in touch with our Chesterfield team today and we will gladly discuss your requirements and provide any advice.