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E-Coating Powder Coating

E-Coating vs. Powder Coating

Among the many types of industrial coatings are electrocoating and powder coating. These two processes are similar, as they both involve applying a coating to a metal product for purposes such as enhancing corrosion protection and wear resistance. But which is superior – electrocoating (e-coating) or powder coating?

Minnesota Industrial Coatings (MIC) provides consistently high-quality industrial coatings, including powder coating and electrocoating (e-coating). MIC professionals carefully guide each project through design to delivery, using our eco-sensitive, quality-driven processes. Contact MIC about your project today!

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Different Types Of Industrial Coatings

Industrial coatings are fundamentally paint applied to various metals like steel or aluminum. They are “caked on” in a way designed to be both aesthetic and protective. There are different industrial coatings to choose from for industrial applications. Some examples of these include epoxies, film lubricants, fluoropolymer, plating, polymers, polyurethane, resins, urethane, and xylene. 

The list of uses for different types of industrial coatings is nearly endless. The main reason for applying virtually any coating is to protect the parts underneath it in some way. 

Specifically, industrial coatings’ most common use is to prevent aluminum, concrete, steel, or other metals from corroding. A common secondary use is to make these materials more resistant to fire or other problems. 

You may think that e-coating and powder coating are similar finishing processes with similar results, but that isn’t entirely true. Both have a uniform, baked-on completed finish. How the finishes are applied, however, differ. The application of both e-coating and powder coating involves an electrical charge, but how the charge is employed also differs, leading to specific results. 

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E-Coating

Also known as electrophoretic deposition or electrocoating, e-coating is a type of industrial coating, considered a “wet process.” It’s more similar to electroplating than powder coating.

The metal is immersed in a bath consisting of paint, epoxy, or other water-based solution. 

The colored particles suspended in the solution are then attached to the substrate with an electrostatic charge, attracting the particles in the solution to the metal surface. 

The electrodeposition process continues until the desired level of coating thickness is achieved. The different thicknesses can be regulated by increasing or decreasing the voltage level of the electrical charge. Once reaching the desired coating thickness, the substrate is removed from the solution. 

The coated substrate is then oven-cured to promote cross-linking and finish “baking” the finish.

E-coating is a popular metal finishing method in the automotive industry. It is often used as a primer coat before paint application to provide better corrosion resistance. 

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Powder Coating

Unlike e-coating, powder coating is a type of industrial coating known as a “dry” process. 

The powder coating process uses an exact, precise combination of curing agents and epoxy resins. 

A coating shop uses a specially-designed spray gun to apply the dry powder particles onto the substrate’s surface. The fact that the powder particles are electrostatically charged is what allows the adhesion to the substrate. 

Just as with e-coating, curing is the finishing step in the powder coating process. Curing causes the particles to melt and catalyzes a chemical reaction that produces the desired finish.

Powder coatings are among the most extensively used finishing methods for materials and products that will directly contact the outdoor environment. They offer excellent weather-resistance, color-retention, and humidity resistance. 

When Does E-Coating Make the Most Sense?

Because of how e-coating is applied, it is typically the better option when coating any pieces that contain hard-to-reach areas. Immersing an object into a liquid solution promotes a more thorough and even distribution of the coating than can usually be achieved with a powder coating spray gun. The application process for powder coating also tends to produce a thicker coating than e-coating.

In contrast, the e-coating process provides exceptional regulation of the thickness level. It’s much easier to produce a thin coating with e-coating than with powder coating. 

The benefits of these two types of industrial coatings are significant in many industries, including the auto industry, where an e-coating is typically applied as a primer before painting for increased corrosion protection.

The Best Of Both Worlds – Combining E-Coat & Powder Coat

A powder coating topcoat placed over an e-coating layer is not a new development. This collaborative process has been employed successfully in many industrial applications. The powder coat and e-coat have no problem adhering to each other as long as adequately cured for the correct amount of time.

Powder coating combined with e-coating provides exceptional protective advantages to your industrial metal products. These advantages include:

Durability: When you add an e-coating to your powder-coated products, you’ll ensure they last longer and stand up better to harsh, outdoor environmental conditions. E-coating is renowned for its exceptional resistance and durability. 

It stands up to both the outdoor elements and indoor factors such as household chemicals. This outstanding performance factor makes it an increasingly popular choice to add a layer of protection in powder-coated manufacturing applications.

Coverage: As we already touched on, e-coating is the better choice of the two for accessing hard-to-reach parts. That said, you might still desire to add the decorative touch that powder coating offers. 

For a combination of great looks and all-encompassing coverage, you can have your manufactured product e-coated, oven-cured, and then powder coated for a stylish finish.

Corrosion & UV Protection: Electrocoating is known for its superior corrosion resistance, which is one reason why so many companies choose this process for their industrial applications. They are often used only as primers or finishes, however, since most aren’t considered UV-stable. Pairing your e-coat with a finishing layer of UV-resistant powder coating ensures both the superior corrosion protection of e-coating and the UV protection of powder coating.

You must check with a qualified industrial coating professional for your manufacturing applications. Certain types of industrial coatings may be better for your industrial project than another. Contact MIC about your industrial coating applications today!

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Powder Coating

An Introduction to Powder Coating

When customers ask us how to help the corrosion and breakdown of metals on their projects, we get excited. We get to tell them all about coatings. 

And, well, we may go on while answering common questions: What is powder coating? Can you powder coat aluminum or only certain metals? Can you paint over a powder coat? Today, we wanted to share some of those answers with you.

At MIC, we provide consistent, high-quality industrial coatings, including powder coating and electrocoating (e-coating). We specialize in handling large parts on quick turnaround and can affordably coat tiny components or low-quantity orders. We also perform custom-masking.

MIC carefully guides each customer’s project through planning, coating, testing, packaging, and shipping. Our coating experts work closely with each customer, using leading coatings technologies and eco-sensitive, quality-driven processes. Contact MIC about your project today!

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What Is Powder Coating?

Powder coating is a dry finishing process. It has become increasingly popular as a metal finishing process since its introduction in the 1960s in North America. 

Powder coating represents over 15% of the total industrial finishing market. Thus, chosen for a wide array of products from household appliances to automobile parts to heavy-duty equipment. 

We’ve found that more customers specify powder coatings for a high-quality, durable finish. Powder coating is well known for providing high-quality finishes in terms of both functionality and overall look. Powder coating is available in a practically limitless range of colors and textures. 

The protective powder coating layer offers a resilient coating to materials that need corrosion protection. 

The powder coating finishes are not only durable, but their use is extremely flexible. Professionals use these coating finishes on different surfaces, including metal, concrete, steel, and plastic, for indoor and outdoor applications. 

The powder itself can be any number of products: acrylics, polyester, polyester-epoxy, polyurethane, and straight epoxy. This finishing process yields a thick, hard finish that is tougher than conventional paints. 

While all are applied (somewhat) similarly, powder coating can come in a wide variety of colors, chemical compounds, and thicknesses.

What Is The Powder Coating Process

Powder coatings are very similar to polymer resin systems, combined with pigments, curatives, flow modifiers, leveling agents, and other additives. These ingredients are melt-mixed, cooled, and ground into a uniform powder, similar to baking flour. 

Electrostatic spray deposition (ESD) applies the powder coating to a base or substrate. EST utilizes a spray gun, which uses an electrostatic charge to the powder particles, causing an attraction between the particles and the grounded part. 

The electrostatic stage of powder coating greatly increases the coating process’s productivity and efficiency by nearly 95% over wet painting. This process wastes less paint, and the metal object becomes fully coated.

After application of the powder, the parts go into a curing oven. With the added heat (as high as 400 degrees), the coating chemically reacts to produce long molecular chains, resulting in high cross-link density. These molecular chains are very breakdown-resistant.  

UV light may be used in addition to or replacing curing ovens. Powder coating finishes can be applied to non-metallic substrates, such as plastics and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

No matter which application process, powder coatings are tough, easy to use, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly!

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Can You Powder Coat Aluminum?

Virtually all metals can be powder coated because metals can hold an electrostatic charge. That electrostatic charge is necessary for the powder coating material to adhere. 

Additionally, any high temperatures used during the curing portion of the coating process aren’t high enough to be detrimental to most metals.

Some other materials, such as plastics and other materials, may not be powder coated because of the electrostatics. Also, plastics may not be able to withstand the heat of the curing process via the oven. In these cases, special powder coatings are used and cured with UV light to avoid the high temperatures.

Can You Paint Over Powder Coat?

We don’t recommend painting over powder coat. But you can combine powder coating with our e-coating for even more finishing options.

Used together (e-coat base with powder topcoat), you get the best of both worlds! We’re talking quality, beautiful finishes, with almost unlimited color options and unmatched corrosion resistance, even under some of the harshest conditions!

When your product needs the absolute best protection, we utilize both processes. This combination ensures the best corrosion resistance, chemical resistance, scratch resistance, chip resistance, and overall-wearing surface available!

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The Benefits Of Powder Coating

You’ll find powder coating applied to products you come into contact with every day. Powder coating protects the toughest machinery, as well as household items. It has several benefits, which makes it an excellent choice for metal fabrication and finishing. 

Here are points you may want to consider when choosing a finish:

Corrosion Resistance

Coating a metal is a popular method of improving corrosion resistance. Powder coating results in a thick finish on metal products, which can be more durable and longer-lasting than conventional painting.

Cost-Effective

Applying a coating is often more cost-effective when compared to alternatives, such as using a corrosion-resistant alloy. For this reason, these coatings have become very common, with one of the most popular methods being powder coating.

With these finishes, the upfront investment may seem significant. Over time, however, the cost is much lower compared to other different types of finishes.

Durability

Powder coatings offer a more durable finish than paint while still providing a very attractive finish. Powder-coated products are more resistant to diminished coating quality due to any impact, moisture, chemicals, ultraviolet (UV) light, and other weather extremes. In turn, powder coatings reduce the risk of scratches, chipping, abrasions, corrosion, fading, and other wear issues.

Easy To Clean

It’s easy for professionals to achieve a smooth, polished look when powder coating metals. This smooth finish repels chemicals, moisture, and other elements that make it easy to clean.

Environmentally-Friendly

Powder coating is an environmentally-safe finishing process because it produces few volatile organic compounds, plus it is recyclable and reusable. 

Thermoplastic coatings can be reshaped very easily, unlike thermoset coatings. The powder is precise, resulting in minimal wastage. This precision is different from painting, where you can experience a lot of overspray and wastage.

The fact that powder coatings don’t need solvents is also a major benefit for the environment. Powder coating processes do not release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may harm the environment. 

No VOCs means that it’s safer to use, and even though wearing protective gear is still recommended, it does not pose as much of a health threat as other finishing processes.

Faster Finishing

Powder coating is typically a one-coat finish. Because of this one-coat finish, the process can be quite quick and easy. 

Professional Finishing

Powder coatings create the most even, finished surfaces (horizontal and vertical surfaces) because the powder is sprayed and heated across without any drips.

Variety

Powder coatings can include multiple, custom finishing colors and textures. The powders sprayed onto the item can be expertly manipulated. 

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How Long Does Powder Coating Last?

The powder coating’s lifespan will depend on several factors, including:

  • the quality of preparation, 
  • the type of powder coating used, 
  • and the environment in which the product lives. 

Powder coating finishes can last up to twenty years. However, consistent use, exposure to UV light, and weather may break down finishes faster.

Different powder coatings also have varying lifespans. Layers that have fluoropolymers and urethanes last longer. Designed to withstand extreme conditions, they are better suited for outdoor products. 

On the other hand, epoxy coatings last very long indoors. Once exposed to the outdoors, however, epoxies break down faster.

Additional Alternatives To Powder Coating

We’ve already discussed electrocoating, so we’ll skip that one here. But, to recap, it is an alternative to powder coating or in addition to powder coating.

Paint is the traditional coating approach, but it comes with multiple limitations. Powder coating is more advanced than wet painting. It pays off with improved durability, a reduced environmental impact, and a high-quality appearance.

The wet painting process is accomplished by thoroughly cleaning an object before wet-blasting liquid paint to an even thickness of approximately 15-20 micrometers. The wet paint is applied until the product is evenly coated with the desired thickness of the paint. 

There are two major disadvantages to using wet paint. First, painting is not as durable. Wet paint can require maintenance and even refinishing or repainting. Second, wet painting can require multiple applications to get an even, unmarred finish. Because wet paint begins with a liquid, it can be tricky to guarantee the perfect finish. 

What Is DIY Powder Coating? 

You can accomplish a DIY powder coating project, but it takes a LOT of equipment and expertise to make it happen. Even more to make it happen perfectly and precisely! You need the right spray gun applicator and the correct baking oven, not to mention experimenting with all of the finishes to make sure your colors come outright.

Or, you can cut out all of that work – and trust the professionals!

Powder coating looks great. And it lasts a long, long time. In addition to its durability, powder coating is an attractive choice due to its environmental advantages. Contact MIC about your powder coating project today!

Categories
E-Coating

An Introduction To E-Coating

From automobiles to everyday hardware, customers today demand higher quality and durability from the products they buy. They expect these products to perform well. They also want the finish to look good and resist corrosion for much longer.

What’s the answer to these demands? E-Coating from Minnesota Industrial Coatings.

What is E-Coating?

E-Coating goes by many names, such as:

E-coating is a high-tech process that was only recently developed in the past fifty years or so. 

Electrocoating is an organic finishing method that uses electrical current to deposit paint onto a single component or assembled product. Electrocoating is used across many industries.

When industry professionals discuss electrocoating, they talk about the complete process of surface preparation, coating application, and paint curing. The electrocoating material is a coating applied to the surface with the aid of an electric current. This current will cause the layer to cover recessed areas and edges completely. It is then baked or heat-cured to convert the material to a hard and durable film. This hard and durable film protects the equipment from the elements. The electrocoating forms a physical and chemical barrier, protecting the covered material.

What Materials Can Be Electrocoated?

  • Aluminum extrusions and castings
  • Brass
  • Chrome plate
  • Cold rolled / hot rolled steel
  • Conductive composites
  • Copper
  • Galvanized steel
  • Iron castings
  • Stainless steel
  • Zinc castings

The Industrial E-Coating Process

The industrial electrocoating process is comprised of four distinct steps:

1.) Pretreatment

The material is cleaned, and phosphate is applied to prepare the surface for the application of the e-coat. This process is essential to achieving the performance requirements desired by the customer. 

2.) Electrocoat Bath

Coatings are then applied to the pretreated metal in an electrocoat bath using precisely calibrated equipment. The e-coat bath consists of 80-90% deionized water and 10-20% paint solids. 

3.) Post-Rinsing

Post-rinsing, which occurs next, enhances the coating’s quality and enables the recovery of excess paint. During the e-coat process, paint is applied to a part using a fixed amount of voltage to achieve the desired film thickness. Once the coating reaches the prescribed thickness, the coating process slows down. As the part exits the bath, paint solids that cling to the surface are rinsed off to maintain application efficiency and aesthetics. This residue material, called “drag out” or “cream coat,” is returned to the tank, enabling the e-coat process to achieve application efficiency rates above 95%.

4.) Heat Curing

After the coated part exits the post-rinse phase, it is placed in a bake oven that cures the paint film to maximize its performance. The minimum bake time is 20 minutes at a temperature of 375°F for most e-coat technologies.

What makes electrocoating unique from other finishing methods is the heat curing in the final step. 

Benefits of E-Coating

1.) Superior Corrosion Resistance

E-coating makes products last longer, protecting the metal underneath the coating. Because of this corrosion resistance, e-coating is good on its own or as a base coat for other finishes.

2.) Better Coverage In Tight Or Hard-To-Reach Areas

Because of how the electrocoating is applied, it’s typically the better option when coating any parts that contain hard-to-reach areas. 

3.) Uniform, Even Coat

When the part being finished is immersed into the liquid, the coating is more evenly and thoroughly distributed than, say, a spray gun application. You can count on no dripping, no pooling, and no gaps.

4.) Better Control of Paint Thickness

This dipping process can also result in a thinner coating than powder coating.

5.) Efficiency

Virtually all unused paint is recovered, leaving almost no waste. Also, most e-coating systems are automated. This automation means that the amount of paint applied to a product can be precisely controlled. This precision results in minimal waste, unlike powder or paint overspray.

6.) Environmentally Friendly

Electrocoating is environmentally friendly. Many manufacturers choose electrocoating because it produces virtually no HAPs (hazardous air pollutants) or VOCs (volatile organic compounds). The process is also RoHS, OSHA, and EPA compliant.

Minnesota Industrial Coatings is unique because it makes extra efforts to ensure environmental friendliness. The waste systems we use for the waste products from the pretreatment process can keep the release of hazardous materials well below the regulatory requirements.

Does Electrocoat Need To Be Top-Coated?

No, not always. In many applications, electrocoat can be considered the “final finish” on a product.

However, electrocoat does not hold up well with UV rays. Thus, using a top coat on any parts that will have UV exposure is an excellent idea. When you pair electrocoating with a topcoat, such as powder coating, it’s an outstanding anti-corrosion primer. These topcoats also allow for a variety of color and gloss options that aren’t easy to create with only electrocoating.

Electrocoated Products

Electrocoated products first made their debut in most homes as parts of cars. Other industries quickly caught on to the revolution and how easy it was to make things last longer with electrocoating. 

Now, you are surrounded by electro-coated products in your home and business, and you may not even know it. Some of the most popular products surrounding you every day are:

  • Eyewear frames
  • Giftware 
  • Hardware 
  • Home Appliances
  • Household or business appliances
  • Jewelry 
  • Sporting equipment

Where Are E-Coated Products Used?

The process of e-coating is used for a wide variety of metallic products. Wherever there is a need for exceptional coating performance over a metal substrate, you may find electrocoating used as a primer or as a finished coating. 

But some industries that regularly use electrocoating include:

  • Aerospace manufacturers
  • Agriculture & agricultural equipment
  • Appliance manufacturers
  • Automobile and automotive parts
  • Fasteners 
  • Fixtures 
  • Lawn & garden equipment & furniture
  • Marine & marine components
  • Metal office furniture
  • Transformers 
  • Trim appliances
  • …& many more industries

Do you have a finishing project, and you are interested in learning more about e-coating? Contact Minnesota Industrial Coatings to submit an RFQ.