Custom Coater Makes Progress With Powder

Posted on Monday, September 21, 2015

It was the mid-1990s when Buyers Products, a manufacturer of products for the mobile equipment industry, decided it was time to finish its products in house. They had been outsourcing to other coaters in the area and knew it was time to control that part of the process, so the company installed its first powder coating line in 1996. This is when Progressive Powder Coating was founded.

It did not take long for the company to live up to its name and progress with its finishing line. Although the line was installed and the company was founded to finish its parent company’s products, within two years a second booth had to be installed to keep up with customer demand.

The original powder coating system was a Nordson 518 system, which was the predecessor to its Excel ® 2002 system. Both the 500 and 2000 series systems are side draft collector systems, capable of one or more colors with the ability to accommodate additional reclaim and non-reclaim color modules. After just a short time, in 1998, Progressive added a Nordson 524 system to keep up with growing customer demand. This system along with the 518 system were both replaced with a ColorMax system in 2010.

In 2005, Progressive bought a previously owned powder coating line from IPE (Industrial Process Equipment), located in southern Calif. This system came with two Excel 2002 roll-on/roll-off systems, a seven-stage washer, and 188 ft. long gas convection oven with 80 ft. dry-off section. The 524 model and Excel 2002 systems make up Line 2, located in a 310,000 sq. ft. facility and includes a 40 ft. IR oven. Both lines also have batch ovens and Econo Coat® batch booths to do samples and small productions.

According to the company’s general manager, John D. Sikora, this line begins with a seven-stage spray washer that consists of: Stage 1, an acid de-scale; Stage 2, rinse; Stage 3, an alkaline cleaner; Stage 4, rinse; Stage 5, iron phosphate; Stage 6, rinse; and Stage 7, an RO final rinse. Sikora says all chemicals are custom designed and supplied by DuBois and have been for the last 15 years. Parts then move down the line and are dried in a convection oven. This line has the capability to apply a primer coat in a 524 system, followed by a gel cure in the 40 ft. Vulcan infrared (IR) oven. Parts are then conveyed onward into one of the two Excel 2002 systems for their top coat, and then move into final cure, first into a second Vulcan IR oven and then to the 188 ft. convection oven.

Powder comes from a range of suppliers, including Axalta, Sherwin Williams, Trimite, Protech and PPG, but, most suppliers are used because of particular needs such as customer specs, where they are used (indoors or outdoors), and salt spray performance.

When parts on either line need to be masked, PPC uses plugs, tapes, screws, nuts, custom made masks and in some cases custom tooling. Most of these come from Custom Fabricating & Supplies or Caplugs/Shercon.

Process control keeps this custom coater making progress, too. According to Sikora, “As a custom coater, we need to adhere to our individual customers’ particular specs, and they are all different.”

To do this, Progressive custom designs individual production process sheets spelling out the exact requirements of their parts and documents them for their use. In its overall Process Control Plan, Sikora says they check the washers’ chemical concentration, temperature, nozzle pressures and alignment two or three times a shift. Both the dry-off and cure ovens temperatures are checked hourly along with the line speed of the parts being run. A spray tech monitors the guns and checks parts at the end of the booth for correct coverage. After the parts come out of the cure oven, a quality control tech checks for coverage, thickness, color, adhesion, cure and any other customer requirement. “We feel that if we stay in the parameters of our Process Control Plan we will achieve good parts consistently,” Sikora concludes.

Sharon Spielman is editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. She can be reached via email at sspielman@powdercoating.org.