Q: WHAT IS POWDER COATING?
A: Powder coating is a process where a finely granulated thermal plastic powder is sprayed at a very low pressure (about 10 psi) from an electrically charged gun. The powder has the consistency of talcum powder or laser printer toner. The CLEAN metal part is grounded and the gun is charged to 10,000 volts or more to give the particles a very high electrical charge. The powder exits the gun and is instantly attracted to the grounded metal part. Once the part has been coated with the powder, it is placed in an oven or under an IR light (depending on the size of the part) and cured at about 400 degrees. Because of the high temperatures involved, there is no risk of trapped moisture under the powder coating (unlike chroming or plating processes). Once the part has cooled to room temperature it can be put into service immediately, unlike paint or epoxy finishes which have to spend time curing before they can be handled. Also because of the sterile high temperature and short curing time of powder coating there is little chance of dust or debris contaminating the finished part.
Q: WHAT DOES THE FINISH LOOK LIKE?
A: This is a common question from people who have never seen a powder coated part. The cured part appears to have been dipped into a very high gloss paint and left to dry. Most powders are a glossy finish unless noted, such as flat black etc. Because very little powder is actually over any given area (about 1-3 mills thick), there is very little chance of runs or sags. When the coating is curing in the oven it “goes plastic” and flows evenly over the part. This results in a show quality look to the part and is the reason top contenders at auto and bike shows have powder coated parts on their entries. In addition powder coated parts never need waxing (actually not recommended as wax will yellow over time). To clean a powder coated part simply use Windex with a soft Cloth. The shine in a powder coated part is embedded into the part itself as the “clear” in the cured part is all the way through the finish, not just a top coat like paint.
Q: WHAT ITEMS CAN BE POWDER COATED??
A: When most people think of Powder Coating they think of automotive or motorcycle applications. Actually, anything metal that can withstand 400 degree heat can be Powder Coated. Metal cabinets, mail boxes, wrought iron fixtures, outdoor furniture etc. With over 90 colors available you can use your imagination! Rejuvenate that outdoor gas grill with our Hi-Temp powder that will withstand 1000 degrees.The obvious exception would be plastic items. The 400 degree heat required to cure the powder would destroy it.
Q: A CAN OF SPRAY PAINT CAN DO THIS. WHY PAY TO HAVE A PART POWDER COATED??
A: This is an easy question. Powder coating is for show winners and people who want a weather proof finish that will last darned near forever. Plain and simple, you get what you pay for. Paint requires maintenance to keep it looking good! Powder coated items do not. As stated above, to clean a powder coated item simply wipe it with Windex and a soft cloth.
Q: IS POWDER COATING INDESTRUCTIBLE ?
A: NO! Any coating, even plating such as chrome will be gouged or scratched if your “Ride” lands shiny side down. No coating is “indestructible”. Powder coating does have advantages over other finishes however. Because It is pliable, rocks etc. will bounce off it instead of chipping it. In addition, unlike chrome, the cured powder has formed a strong mechanical bond with The part underneath it. This makes it almost impossible to chip a part that has been properly powder coated. There are three terms involved here; HARDNESS, PLIABILITY and THICKNESS. Paint is hard, not very pliable and very thin. What this means is that paint can be very easily chipped (being hard), will not bend (paint on a spring will eventually crack), and is very thin, which gives very little protection for the painted part (easily scratched). Plating such as chroming, is extremely hard, (chips easily), is not pliable at all (part flex will crack it), and somewhat thick which protects the part underneath (at least until it chips). Powder coating on the other hand, has up to 75% of the hardness of chrome plating, is very pliable (it is plastic) which makes it prefect for coating parts that will bend or flex. It is also thick compared to paint (about the same thickness as chrome plating).
Q: HOW MUCH? $$$$
A: For a "rule of thumb" pricing guide see: [Price Guide] . 70% of the cost of powder coating is part preparation. If you have a dirty, greasy or rusted part the cost is going to be considerably more than for an out of the box brand new part. A used part may require degreasing, paint stripping and ALWAYS a session in the blast cabinet. All this costs money. The secret to powder coating (Or Any Coating) is PART PREPARATION. It has to be clean. Another factor is the type of powder ( Translucent, Iridescent, High-Temp etc.) Also the Number of coats. You may want a clear coat over a color coat or a translucent color coat over a base coat. The additional cost for dual coats is not much, as I said the major cost is part preparation. An example would be an out of the box brand new small block Chevy intake manifold would Cost $40 to $50 to powder coat (even brand new parts require a prep cleaning before coating). On the other hand, the same used part that has to be stripped and blasted will cost $30 to $40 more. One reason part preparation costs this much is that all machined surfaces and tapped holes must be masked and/or plugged before sandblasting and Powder Coating. This all takes time. In certain cases, it may be cheaper to buy a new part to have powder coated.
Q: CAN I REDUCE MY COSTS FOR POWDER COATING?
A: Sure. Remove all parts that are not to be coated (brackets, seals etc.) and clean the part before bringing it in. As I stated, even brand new parts have to be “prepped” before coating. But if the part is reasonably clean, this will considerably reduce the price of the powder coating process.
Q: HOW LONG WOULD YOU HAVE MY PARTS?
A: Average “Turnaround” would be about one week. This, of course, may vary depending on the work load of the shop. If you know you are not going to need this or these parts for a while, send them now and you will have them when you are ready for them. If it is an impulse order, it is usually “first in first out” for powdercoating only. The exception would be if a customer is having a part polished before being powder coated. CALL for a turnaround estimate and try to plan ahead.