Powder coating is a popular method for finishing metal, but that isn’t the only use for it. The benefits of powder coating, such as high-quality, decorative finishes, durability and color or texture options, can apply to many different materials.
Find out what materials can be powder coated to reap the performance and aesthetic benefits of this popular dry-finishing process.
What are the Requirements for Powder Coating?
The main requirement in determining what materials can be powder coated is the material’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures. Powder coating often reaches temperatures of 400 degrees or above, which can cause certain materials to melt.
Powder coatings are based on polymer resins combined with leveling agents, pigments, curatives, flow modifiers and other ingredients. These are mixed, cooled and ground into a smooth powder that resembles flour. Once mixed, a process called electrostatic spray deposition is then used to apply the powder coating to the material. This is achieved with a spray gun, which uses an electrostatic charge to fuse the powder particles to the grounded metal.
After the powder coating application, the piece goes in a curing oven that uses heat to cause a chemical reaction between the molecular chains, leading to a high cross-link density that’s resistant to breakdown. This is most often used on metal that can attain the proper charge, but it can also be used for non-metallic substances.
Powder Coating Non-Metallic Materials
Powder coating sticks to metal because of the electrical charge, so simply spraying wood, glass, plastic or other non-conductive materials will cause the powder to slip off.
Preheating non-metallic materials allows the powder coat to melt when it comes in contact, so it can stick to the surface. After the material and the powder coat cool down, it’s put back in the curing oven to complete the process. This is a tricky method, however, since it can become runny and compromise the integrity and durability of the coat.
Hot-flocking is another method of powder coating non-metallic materials. Like preheating, the material gets placed in a curing oven to reach a temperature of 400 degrees, then removed and immediately sprayed with the powder coat. This method allows the powder to meld instantly and flow properly for an even application.
For heat-sensitive materials, such as wood or some plastics, UV-curable powder coats require minimal heat to cure the powder. The pieces are coated and enter the curing oven, allowing the coating to melt and flow for several minutes, then they’re exposed to ultraviolet light for a few seconds to facilitate the final curing and hardening of the finish.
With these advanced methods, wood, plastic, composites, glass and medium-density fiberboard can be powder coated effectively, giving you all the benefits.
Learn More at AR Powder Coating
If you’re looking to powder coat a non-metallic material, you need to be sure you’re using experienced professionals that understand the unique process, such as AR Powder Coating. We have a variety of powder coating techniques, along with experts who can tailor the process to the heat-sensitive materials. Contact us today to learn more about our cutting-edge powder coating!