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There are many ways that components and products made at Custom Laser can be finished to make them ready for our customers, but one of the most common and durable options is powder coating. Available since the ‘60s, powder coating has been highly praised for its benefits for metal items for more than half a century, but has become even more popular in recent years for its eco-friendly benefits.
Is powder coating the right choice for your next project?
What Is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is what’s known as a dry finishing process that delivers a colorful, durable and consistent finishing coat. Typically, this is done with metal products or components, but can also be applied to other materials like fiberboard and plastic. The Powder Coating Institute notes that powder coating now represents more than 15 percent of the total industrial finishing market today across all markets and applications.
The powder itself is a polymer resin base with additives used to give the powder its color, change the flow rate or curing time and control other factors of the coating process. Using an electrostatic spray deposition process, the powder is applied to the surface of the part or component, creating a charged attraction between the coating and the grounded part. After application, the piece goes through a curing oven which causes a chemical reaction that creates long molecular chains which link the coating with the surface, resulting in the finished item.
Why Choose Powder Coating?
Beyond the ability to create a finished look in a full spectrum of color choices, powder coating is incredibly popular for its durability. A powder coated item has much greater resistance to scratching, chipping and fading, meaning that finished pieces will stay looking sharp and protected for longer than painted items. In addition, powder coating offers greater resistance to the elements, protecting the surface from moisture, UV rays or other environmental factors. This is also why you frequently see powder coating on heavy machinery, grills, outdoor furniture and other components and parts that are exposed to weather conditions and tough work environments.
You may also be surprised to learn that powder coating is also incredibly ecofriendly – more so, even, than paints. Because powder coating is completed in a closed and sealed space, it eliminates the risk or spills or contamination. Powder coating is also recyclable, with unused powder able to be reclaimed for future use. The process from start to finish also produces nearly no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it much easier to be compliant with environmental regulations and standards.
Finally, with a far greater life expectancy for powder coating versus paint coating that may need to be reapplied, the finishing process offers a smaller carbon footprint. This not only helps reduce overall impacts to the environment by eliminating the need to repaint, but also prolongs the life of the finished part, component or product, helping diminish the need for replacement.
When Powder Coating Won’t Work
While powder coating offers many advantages for finished components, there are a few instances when it isn’t the best choice for customers. For example, powder coating is nearly impossible to apply thinly, so if your component has very stringent thickness requirements or tight part clearances, you may need to choose an alternate finish option. In addition, powder coating can be difficult to color match precisely from one batch to another due to the nature of the powdered coating. If you need to color match exactly, you may be better using a paint or other coloring process.
Choose Powder Coating at Custom Laser
At Custom Laser, we offer a full range of finishing options for our custom-cut components and parts, including powder coating. Simply let us know what kind of coloring and specifications you have for your project and our team will work with you to create finished items that meet your exact needs. Find out more about our full range of laser cutting and metal fabrication services today by calling us at 716-434-8600.
Yes it’s a conference table for Acquest Development but more than that, it’s representative of how we combine in-house expertise with key partnerships (EWS Custom Woodworking and Michael Chadwick, architect/furniture designer) to deliver highly customized pieces for our customers. Design, laser cutting, fabricating, and detailing all working together.
It’s often thought that laser cutting or waterjet cutting represents the entire manufacturing process for metal components and parts that we design. However, in most cases, these parts require additional handling to complete, typically through a process known as machine finishing.
Through this process, we can prepare parts with a variety of different requirements and ensure they are perfectly finished and ready for use when they reach you. But what option is best? That depends on your needs, so let’s take a closer look at some of the most common machine finishing options.
Nearly all parts that we produce go through a deburring process first after emerging from the manufacturing cut. This process is necessary to clean the edges of a cut component, and removes the small irregularities in metal that may arise during the formation process. The small metal burrs on parts are a problem as they can cut hands or lead to an imperfect fit in a tight space, but can also be more of an issue if they come loose in a manufacturing or industrial setting, introducing unwanted debris that could damage components or taint manufactured goods. Deburring removes these imperfections and delivers a perfectly smooth and clean part to you.
Finishing is also used to give a decorative or refined look to parts or components. Directional finishing – also known as a brushed finish – leaves parts with a clean, consistent surface finish. This sanding-style finish creates a look that features consistent grit lines all oriented the same way – hence, the directional name. This is a common finish and can be done in differing levels of detail, from a rough finish that gives a part a more clean look or for commercially produced parts that will be used by consumers, such as handles, bathroom plumbing fixtures and other readily seen items.
Another common finishing option can prepare a produced component for eventual painting or treatment with another coating material. Metal surfaces are often not easy to paint, and without this process, uneven coating or poor bonding of paint to a surface is common. By using abrasive belts and/or brush heads to lightly wear the surface, this process can leave the part ready for painting or dipping. This intermediary process can also prepare a component for further microinch finishing work.
Edging and Edge Rounding
The edge rounding finishing process is used most commonly with components that have a circular shape, with this process helping to create a consistent and smooth radius around an edge. However, rounding can also be used to break the straight lines along the edge of a part, smoothing the corners of the edges far more than is done during the deburring process. This also makes it easier for parts to receive a consistent coating or paint application. Without a sharp edge, there is a reduced risk of uneven application of paint or other materials, which, in turn, helps protect the part from corrosion in the long term.
From Start to Finish, Turn to Custom Laser
Custom Laser’s team can handle all your metal manufacturing and fabrication needs, from initial design and cut through machine finishing. We offer a full range of laser cutting and metal forming services for our customers here in Western New York, as well as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Plus, with laser etching and marking services available in addition to metal finishing, our staff can finalize all components you need to your exact specifications. Find out how we can help with your next parts manufacturing job. Call us today at 716.434.8600.