Powder Coating 101: The Basics of Electrostatic Coatings

If you’ve ever watched videos of the powder coating process, you might not be too sure how it differs all that much from traditional painting. It appears to be someone spraying color onto a part using a spray gun, right? Appearances can be deceiving, though, and there are a few key powder coating tricks that make it much more involved than a generic painting process.

Here’s a look at powder coating step by step, to show what’s happening behind the scenes at our Washington facility during a powder coating project.

1. Clean the part

Before you get started powder coating, make sure to thoroughly clean the part you’re going to be coating. This can involve anything from wiping it down with an industrial solvent, to sandblasting it to remove debris. The surface needs to be completely clean before it can be powder coated.

2. Applying the ground

Powder coating is a process defined by electricity. Specifically, the metal part being painted needs to be grounded, and the coating being applied needs to be negatively charged. The result is that the negatively-charged color particles cling to the part. It gives the appearance of spray painting, but without an electrical charge, the color wouldn’t cling.

The first step of the process is to ground the part being painted. One of the best powder coating tips is to make sure all contacts are clean and that the ground is well-secured. This allows for a better, more evenly-distributed coating during the painting process.

3. Spraying the part

Once the ground is applied, a powder coating expert will close off the paint booth and get to spraying. The process is usually a slow one. Because particles are attracted to the part via the electrostatic charge, it doesn’t matter how much pressure is behind the spray gun. Instead, powder coating experts work on technique—slow, sweeping motions to ensure good coverage of the part. This continues until every charged surface is covered.

During this step, it’s important to have a sterile, clean booth. Particles and debris in the air can affect the attraction of particles to the part being painted. It’s a good idea to have an air exchanger system or some sort of vehicle venting, to remove excess spray material and unwanted air particles.

4. Bake the enamel

Once the part is painted, it’s immediately put into a kiln and baked. The high heat bonds the electrostatic particles and cures them into an enamel coating that’s extremely resilient. Once removed from the oven, the part is left to cool and the curing process finishes. After a light cleaning and polish, it’s ready for use!

There are plenty of powder coating tips and tricks to be aware of in between, and this is just a very basic outline of the process. Everything from spray particle size to baking temperature matters and can affect the outcome of the process. That’s why it’s best to always trust an experienced powder coating shop in Washington like Powder Vision Inc. for any projects you may have. It’s a far cry from the general painting process it appears to be!