Posted in: Industry News

Powder Is Not A One-Trick Pony

Posted on Saturday, October 1, 2011

Powder, which has been around for almost 50 years, typically is thought of as a single-coat coating for steel and aluminum surfaces.

Of course this is because powder does work as a fantastic aesthetic and protective coating for all kinds of steel and aluminum applications. As a matter of fact, where powder is used in many of these applications, there is nothing that can really compete with it. However, did you know powder is being used in many other applications that you may not have even thought about? The fact is, powder has been developed for multiple applications outside the typical single-coat system on steel and/or aluminum with great success. Check out the list below and see how many of these applications you knew about or had heard of before you read this article.

1 Did you know powder has been developed for applications on glass? Yes, I said glass. Powder has been used as an opaque color coating to enhance the appearance of perfume bottles as well as some transparent powders for glass bottles.

2 Have you ever seen powder applied to fiberglass? I have; and with the right process it works great. The attraction is there, and with the proper cure schedule, the out gassing you would expect from fiberglass is manageable.

3 Surely you have heard about powder on heat-sensitive substrates such as medium density fiberboard (MDF), which can be used for cabinetry and shelving, and on plastics that can be used for handles and accessories for the appli- ance and automotive markets. If you have not heard of this, where have you been? Under a rock?

4 Did you know powder has been used on assembled parts? I am talking about parts such as electrical motors and hydraulic cylinders, where the product is assembled and many of the components have a low tolerance for heat and with special formulations and unique curing system powders have worked very well.

5 Did you know you can cure some powders with special infrared (IR) curing in less than 10 seconds? I am talking completely cured, not just a gel stage.

6 How about this one: Have you ever seen powder applied in a dry-on-dry application? This is where the first coat is applied to an ambient temperature part utilizing a zinc primer and without any post thermo energy the part remains at ambient temperature when the weatherable top coat is applied. Then the two are mono-cured together, creating a fantastic intercoat adhesion and a superior protective coating. The trick is in marrying the two powders together with the proper formulations and cure process.

7 How about using powder for a base coat for sublimation? Through heat and pressure, you add an emblem that penetrates the coating for extended wear and durability. In this application, the sublimation process virtually can be anything you want it to be. It can simulate wood grain, water drops, or even a picture of yourself.

8 Today powder is also being used with a one-step coating that has multiple dry colors blended in. This gives a visual of a multi-step process. Because powder does not dissolve together during the cure cycle, many multi-color looks are achievable in a one-step process.

9 Did you know you can add anti-microbial ingredients to powder and/or formulate powder with anti-graffiti properties?

10 Get this: Powder can be applied in the field without the need for a cure oven. I have seen powder applied on pipe with an induction coil on the pipe. The coil is rolled over the area to be coated and the functional coating is applied on the hot surface and cured using residual heat. There are even application devices today that apply the coating through a flame, causing the powder to melt and fuse to the surface without the need for a postbake oven.

11 I love this one: I recall seeing powder applied to class rings and then the surface being polished off leaving the background powder coated.

12  How about powder used in an in-mold application? Yep, it has been done and it works.

13 Coil coating with powder is being done every day and with some very impressive line speeds

14 Did you know you can get powder that can withstand applications where they are in excess of 1,000°F.

15 You can get peels, textures, veins, hammertones, bonded powder coatings and powder that have multiple components.

16 You can get powder to be used as an insulator and powder that can be formulated as utilizing conductive components.

17 I have seen applications using thermoset powders where the average film thickness is less than 1 mil and some where the average is in excess of 60 mils.

18 Today, powder can exceed AAMA 2605 performance needs as well as some of the most harsh chemical resistance applications you can think of.

19 I recall powder being used as a protective coating as well as adhering two metals surfaces together in the same application.

20 How about military applications, powder Teflon, and powder for porcelain enamel applications? Let’s not forget to mention these!

So, do you think I missed anything? Well, of course I did. There are so many unique uses for powder coatings! But, how did you do with this list? If you were aware of about 10 of these uses, you are average. If you knew about 11-15, you are well informed. If you knew 16 or more, you must be as old as I am and should probably keep that a secret. When you need a coating for any application, don’t rule out powder. It has been developed for uses well beyond what you might think it is typically used for. You may not use powder for every application, but then again, maybe you can?

Steve Houston is vice president of TCI Powder Coatings, Ellaville, Ga. He can be reached via email at