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!
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.
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.
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!