When this Michigan-based maker of high-design site
furniture and advanced lighting systems was ready
to expand with a new powder coating line, they turned to
a familiar supplier.
Landscape Forms, Kalamazoo, Mich., is a leader in
high-design site furniture and advanced lighting systems.
Their products are found around the world on corporate,
college and healthcare campuses as well as in transit
centers, city centers, municipal facilities, parks and more.
Benches, tables, chairs, litter and recycling receptacles,
outdoor power pedestals/charging stations, terrace furniture,
sunshades, bike racks, bollards, shelters and planters
are among the many products that the company designs,
fabricates and finishes.
Landscape Forms adheres to strict sustainability standards
and practices in their products, processes, programs and
facilities. For nearly 20 years, powder coating has played a
large part in the company’s commitment to sustainability.
“About 90 percent of our total product offerings incorporate
aluminum or steel and are powder coated,” says Rush
Burpee, manufacturing engineer at Landscape Forms. “We’re
committed to the environmental and the sustainable benefits
of powder coating. Powder also provides our products and
customers with unmatched durability.”
Landscape Forms’ clients include familiar brand leaders
such as Boeing, Cisco Systems, Disney, Sprint, American
Airlines, Herman Miller and Nike. Customers are typically
landscape architects who specify Landscape Forms products
on their projects.
“All of our products are made to order for customers who
choose their colors, so quick color-change capability is key to
our process,” notes Burpee.
Decades of Experience in Powder Coating
When products are outdoors 24/7 all year, with a lifespan
of a decade or more, the powder coating finish better be
tough. The system and equipment that apply those powder
coatings better be just as reliable.
No strangers to powder coating, Burpee and Group Leader
Adam Dintaman recall Landscape Forms using Nordson
equipment as far back as 1999. “Our product offerings were
expanding and we had more complex product geometries,”
said Dintaman. “We used Nordson Tribomatic® spray guns
in a competitor’s booth. They gave us good penetration into
Faraday cage areas and good wrap.”
In 2008, Landscape Forms upgraded to Nordson’s
high-density, low-velocity color-on-demand system for increased
production and fast color-change capability.
In 2015, when Landscape Forms planned to move its
powder coating operation from their headquarters to a new
200,000 sq-ft facility at the Midlink Business Park in Kalamazoo,
they contacted Nordson about the company’s powder
coating technologies. “We had a long history with Nordson
and were really interested in their Lean Cell® system,” says
Working with Nordson Powder System Specialist Mike
Riley and system integrator Midwest Finishing Systems,
Landscape Forms decided on a complete, engineered system
consisting of the following Nordson equipment:
- Primer Booth: Lean Cell booth, two gun positioners
with oscillators, 12 Encore HD automatic spray guns,
two Encore HD handguns and iControl 2 controller
- Silver/Metallic Booth: Lean Cell booth, four Encore HD
- Color Booth: Lean Cell booth, paint kitchen, four Encore
HD color-on-demand handguns
- Batch Booth: Vantage 6000 feed center, Encore LT handgun
with cup kit
The move to the new facility and installation of the new
powder coating line started in July 2015, production testing
began in January 2016, and the system became fully operational
in February 2016.
“The collaboration between Nordson and Midwest Finishing
Systems on our environmental room and the entire
system was great,” says Burpee. “Even with so many components,
Nordson was able to put together a quote and pricing
information and get it to us in a very timely manner. Nordson
was there throughout the installation with any kind of support
According to Tim Wooley, director of operations at
Landscape Forms, the powder line consists of a 4'' I-beam
monorail. “We run the line at 8 fpm, and it is a three-pass
system—meaning we can apply three different coats of
powder with one pass through the system.” Everything that
Landscape Forms coats is either e-coated or anodized, so the
company uses a basic alkaline wash followed by three fresh
water rinses, the final rinse being a virgin RO halo, according
The gas-fired convection cure ovens were manufactured by
Midwest. “We selected and designed these ovens to handle our
wide range of substrates and part geometries,” Wooley says.
To ensure that their products can endure the tough environments
where they are used, the company must remain diligent in all parts of the process, including after parts have
been finished. “We conduct a variety of our own testing in
house—corrosion, QUV, xenon arc, adhesion, etc.—as well
as have strong partnerships with our vendors to ensure our
materials and process are robust,” Wooley says.
Aiming for Perfect Form
The increased efficiencies Landscape Forms has experienced
since installing the new line have exceeded expectations.
“The new line gives us the capacity to run more
products,” says Burpee. “And we’re running about 70 percent
faster than before.” Depending on the type and size of the
product, Landscape Forms can place between one to five
products on a skid. Today, they produce from 500 to 1,000
skids per day, compared to 150 to 300 skids per day with the
“We’re putting about 20 percent more powder on the
product at faster line speeds than in the past, and achieving
better transfer efficiency. As a result, we feel our overall product
quality is better,” Dintaman says. “Our color change time
is also down to about 60 seconds from four minutes.”
With regard to the new equipment on the powder line,
operators are giving rave reviews about the handguns.
According to Burpee, operators like the gun’s light weight
and that the handle position is comfortable. In addition,
there’s more interfacing with the handguns and their on-gun
The powder booths are at grade/floor level rather than up
on platforms like old-style cartridge booths, which is safer for
operators. Operators spray directly into the collector.
They can spray more powder volume with less velocity,
achieving better powder containment, less airborne material
and less cross contamination.
Landscape Forms only reclaims powder in the primer
application, since numerous color changes in the color booth
makes reclaim difficult.
“Again, spraying toward the collector allows us to easily
collect waste powder into the hopper for removal, as opposed
to the old booths, where we needed to scoop out and clean
out the hoppers that were below,” says Dintaman.
Engineered for Success
Overall, Landscape Forms is pleased with the installation
and the ease with which the new powder line operates. “This
engineered system has all the equipment and components
operating the way we intended them to be used. We also
have more equipment, grade-level booths, better reclaim,
more ease-of-use, in a line that is more efficient and more
foolproof,” Burpee explains.
Adds Dintaman, “When you look at the size and scope
of what we just installed in our new facility, we expect to be
using this equipment for the next 10 years.”
Founded in 1969, Landscape Forms is a privately held
company. With 400 employees, Landscape Forms was named
by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 15 Small Workplaces
in the United States.
Sharon Spielman is editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. She
can be reached via email at email@example.com.