Powder Coating FAQs
What is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is a finishing process used to enhance both the aesthetic finish and functional performance of parts. Sometimes referred to as "dry painting", Powder coating is a process used to apply a protective thermoset layer over a part by means of a dry-spray process. This is achieved through an electrostatic application process followed by a cure cycle at elevated temperatures.
Dry powder is sprayed onto a part and clings by means of static electricity. Once the part has been fully coated in dry powder, it is moved to an oven where the powder quickly melts and fuses, becoming bonded to itself and to the substrate. After a short time (usually 10-20 minutes) the part is removed from the oven and allowed to cool. The coating is fully cured and ready for handling as soon as the part is cool.
How tough is powder coating?
This is a broad question with numerous answers, as "tough" can mean different things and is subject to the end use application. In general, powder coating is more "tough" than a comparable wet-paint equivalent. Different powder chemistries exist that excel in different areas. Armor Performance Coating can help you select the optimal powder formulation for your application.
Superior scratch resistance -- A powder coat finish can vary between 2H-4H pencil hardness rating, depending on the powder type selected.
Excellent UV stability -- UV stability refers to a coating's ability to resist fading when exposed to UV light sources, such as sunlight. Powder formulations are available that resist fading and maintain their luster even under many years of UV exposure.
Outstanding chemical protection -- Powders are available specifically optimized to protect substrates from chemical attack.
Great long-term durability -- Once powder coated, parts generally don't require re-coating for a very long time, because they do not wear as quickly as wet-paints.
What are the environmental impacts of powder coating?
Powder coating is generally viewed as a "green" painting process, due the fact that virtually no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released during the coating process. Armor Performance Coating is committed protecting our environment and has taken great steps to ensure that our powder coating line uses only bio-degradable and non-hazardous waste-producing products.
How is powder coating better than wet painting?
Powder coating offers numerous advantages over wet painting, and is generally considered a superior coating.
Powder coating results in a more durable and scratch-resistant finish than typical wet paints, such as epoxies. Different powder formulations are available that offer superior weather and chemical resistance, UV stability, and surface hardness. Additionally, powder coating can be applied in thicker layers without runs and sags.
Powder coating is overall a more environmentally friendly process than wet painting. Because powder coating does not require the use of organic solvents, no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released during processing. Clean up requires only compressed air, not paint thinners, and any over-spray can be captured and disposed of safely.
Textures and colors that would never be possible with wet paints are common place in powder coating.
How much does it cost?
Typically, powder coating is less expensive than professional wet painting due to the ease of equipment set up, color changes, and lack of hazardous waste disposal fees. When comparing the lifetime costs of powder coated and wet painted parts, it is important to consider that typical powder coat lifetime is much longer than wet paint. It is often the case that wet painted parts must be repainted periodically, whereas powder coated parts generally last much longer.
What can be powder coated?
Armor Performance Coating provides powder coating services for metal parts. Any metal part that can tolerate 400 degrees F can be powder coated! When parts are brought in, any parts that cannot tolerate 400 F must be removed.
Many different kinds of parts can be, and are, powder coated. Some commonly powder coated items include:
- auto and motorcycle parts
- lawn furniture
- industrial equipment
- light fixtures
- metal fencing
- metal artwork
- agricultural and irrigation equipment
Can I powder coat my firearm?
Armor Performance Coating does not recommend powder coating firearms for several reasons. First, due to the normal wear and tear that a firearm sees, powder coating is not the optimal coating solution. While it excels in many other area, firearms benefit more from a harder coating. Second, powder coat itself may be too thick and cause conflicts in the tight-tolerance parts often found in firearms.
For firearms, Armor Performance Coating recommends Cerakote, a product specifically designed for firearms. Click here to learn more about Cerakote.
What colors are available?
We stock a large selection of standard colors as well as many specialty colors and textures. Over 6500 different colors and textures, including color matching, are available by special order, and usually arrive in several days. Contact Armor Performance Coating for more information about color availability.
Can I powder coat my high temperature parts, like an exhaust manifold or grill?
Yes, special powders are available for applications that experience high temperatures. Depending on the operating temperature and application, Cerakote may be better option than powder coating. Click here to learn more about Cerakote.
Can my chrome wheels be powder coated?
Armor Performance Coating recommends that wheels be de-chromed before powder coating, due to the bubbling and peeling of the chrome layer can occur during powder coating. Since the durability of the powder coated layer relies extensively on the quality of the chrome layer, powder coating over chrome plating is risky and does not always yield the desired finish. However, in some cases powder coating directly over chrome is the only way to achieve a specific finish. If you have chrome parts that need powder coating, Armor Performance Coating is more than happy to discuss your application specifically.
How should I care for my powder coated parts?
While it is true that powder coated parts are durable, they still require care to maintain an optimal appearance. For show-finish parts, treat your powder coated part like you would any other high-end paint job -- be gentle when handling and avoid any intentional mistreatment. For parts bearing a more functional purpose, subject to normal wear and tear, a wipe down every once in awhile with soapy water for clean up is sufficient. It is not recommended to use solvent-based cleaners, such as acetone, on powder coated parts. These cleaners will attack and dull the powder coated finish, reducing its protective effectiveness.