The Rise of Powder Coating in the Architectural Industry
Powder coatings are quickly becoming the product of choice for custom coaters, manufacturers and other industries, but there’s no greater potential than in the architectural industry. While liquid fluoropolymer coatings have been the choice product for curtain walls, building panels, commercial windows and other elements, industry professionals have been considering the merit of powder coating in recent years.
The use of power coatings in the architectural market dates back to the 1970s when powder coating was in its infancy, but the advancements in technology and materials have provided new architectural market opportunities that are just starting to emerge. Learn more about the rise of powder coating in the architectural industry.
American Architectural Manufacturers Association
The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) developed specifications for architectural powder coating in the North American market in the 1980s. These specifications include AAMA 603 and 605 and Qualicoat Class 1 and Class 2 specifications, which cover the physical properties of the cured coating, as well as the corrosion and weather-resistant properties.
New performance specifications were introduced in the 1990s, which reflected the newest technologies and improved the powder coating options on the market. These include AAMA 2603, AAMA 2604 and AAMA 2605. These upgraded standards were a result of then-new TGIC-free formulas that enhanced the weathering performance of powder coating, as well as the introduction of chrome-free pre-treatments that further improved the corrosion resistant properties. Also, both of these formulas are better for the environment.
Extensive testing is used to determine if the coatings meet performance requirements. Tests such as dry film hardness, impact resistance, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance and adhesion are used. Exterior durability is tested as well, with exposure to harsh environments to test gloss and color retention, as well as erosion resistance.
Powder coating has plenty of advantages for the architectural industry, but none greater than the environmental sustainability. One of the hottest trends for architecture is low-emitting products and sustainable buildings, which means buildings that are constructed, designed and operated to boost the economic and environmental productivity and performance. These increased demands are boosting the market for powder coating in architecture, as well as other industries.
Solvent and volatile organic compound (VOC) awareness is also increasing, with many industries trending toward eliminating these hazardous compounds as much as possible. Powder coatings are solvent- and VOC-free on their own and produce less waste than other painting methods, so they’re a clear choice for a market that’s trying to become more “green.” Stricter environmental regulations will only drive this market further.
Powder coatings require less transportation energy than other coatings as well, which are manufactured and shipped in liquid, and therefore heavier. This decreases the amount of energy and resources required to transport powder coatings from the factory to the finished metal.
Strength and Durability
Powder coating already has wide use in the appliance and automotive industry, as well as hard-use items like motorcycles, mountain bikes, lawnmowers, patio furniture or farm equipment. This isn’t a surprise, since powder coating is well-known for its superior strength and durability over liquid coatings.
In architectural applications, powder coating can be used for metal components, such as door frames, railings or window frames. These materials are strong and durable on their own, lasting years with proper care, but the addition of a solid coat of powder increases that durability and provides a layer of protection. The powder coat is also more resistant to scratching, fading, erosion or other types of damage that can ruin the look of a home or building.
The durability of powder coat is even more important in commercial architecture, where the public is coming in contact with the finish on a regular basis. This may include hand rails, fencing, door frames, railing, crash bars, storefronts, commercial windows or other hard-wearing areas of public buildings.
Colors and Finishes
Powder coating comes in a variety of colors and options, including customized options, which is vital to the architecture industry. Powder coatings are made by melting resins, pigments and other additives together and grinding them into a fine powder, which can be done in many different colors.
Architectural powder coatings can also be formulated with mica powders to create a metallic look, which is in high demand for many architects. Custom colors and small batches are possible as well, providing a range of unique color options.
Looking to the Future
Powder coating has been the norm for European architects for decades, but the construction practices, requirements, maintenance and specifications are different than North American standards. Because of this, the adoption of powder coating for North American markets has been much slower.
Recently, however, the combination of the “green” trend in construction and the increased awareness of powder coating as an option for coating architectural metals has caused the architectural powder coating market to skyrocket. This has also pushed the demand for more technological advancements to address the few limitations of powder coating.
The environmental advantages and manufacturing flexibility of powder coating will undoubtedly impact its use in the near future, especially as a complement to conventional liquid coatings that are used for the majority of building materials. With both of these options, the range of design and technology choices available to architects is virtually limitless.
Architectural Powder Coating at AR Powder Coating
If you want to learn more about architectural powder coating or you have a current project, AR Powder Coating can help. We provide a variety of industrial powder coating services, including coating of building elements like doors, entry gates, entryways, fences, fixtures, railings, windows, staircases and much more. We also offer batch and conveyor production coatings, so no job is too big or too small, and our virtually limitless color options ensure you can customize your project to your needs. Contact us today to arrange a shop tour and discuss your project needs!