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E-Coating

A-Coating vs. E-Coating

A-coating and E-coating are two options for industrial metal coating technologies. They apply rust and corrosion-proof coating to metal parts. Both a-coating and e-coating are dip-coating processes that see wide use in the automotive and heavy machinery industries to coating large components. 

Despite these similarities, there are significant differences to consider when selecting the correct industrial metal coating process.

Minnesota Industrial Coatings (MIC) provides consistently high-quality industrial coatings, including powder coating and electrocoating (e-coating). MIC guides each project through planning, coating, testing, packaging, and shipping. MIC’s expert team works closely with each customer, using leading coatings technologies and eco-sensitive, quality-driven processes. 

Contact us for your coating project today

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A-Coating: A Brief Overview

“A-coating” is a colloquial term for a coating application with Aquence. Aquence was previously marketed as an autophoretic coating

A-coating is waterborne, a poly coating that bonds to iron on contact. A ferrous metal part is dipped in a tank of liquid Aquence, and the product bonds to the piece with a chemical reaction. Manufacturers finish the process by placing the piece in an oven to cure the coating.

A-coating has gained recognition as a reliable metal coating technology in the automotive and heavy industrial manufacturing industries.

A-coating thickness is controlled in several ways. Because the coating depends not on an electrical current but the diffusion of ferric ions to the surface and ferrous ions, the deposition rate slows down over time and will self-limit to a certain extent. 

A-Coating Advantages

  • Unlimited throwing power. Wherever the coating reaches, it coats.
  • Excellent coverage.
  • Outstanding corrosion resistance.
  • Noted abrasion/scratch resistance.
  • Exceptional wear resistance.
  • Environmentally sustainable. A-coating contains no heavy metals and very few volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Also, any wastewater from the A-coating process can be treated and disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.
  • A-coating works well for complex components and assemblies. Complete immersion provides complete coverage.
  • A remarkable hard, yet flexible, coating.
  • Cure Temperature. A-coating cures at 220ºF. At this temperature, most rubber and plastics will be undamaged. Rubber and metal anti-vibration mountings are coated without damage to the rubber, and rubber seals remain intact. 
  • Electricity-free. The A-coating process relies on a chemical reaction, not an electrical current.
  • Autodeposition coating conforms to the metal surface’s shape and is not affected by variances in electrical energy. This feature means ACC provides exceptional edge protection compared to other paint processes. 
  • A-coating provides the same functional performance level as baking enamels, electroplating, electrocoating, and powder-coating technologies. 
  • A-coating leads to improved manufacturing cycle times. 
  • Complex parts and assemblies can be painted while fully assembled rather than as components.
  • A-coating conforms to the metal surface’s shape and is not affected by variances in electrical energy. This feature means ACC provides exceptional edge protection compared to other paint processes. Screw threads often do not require masking when using ACC, offering a significant advantage over other coatings. 
  • Fewer limitations on process location. 

The A-coating process is a reliable and straightforward industrial finishing system. It has a long and global record of providing uniform protective coatings to the automotive, metal furniture, agricultural equipment, and appliance industries. 

Autophoretic and Aquence Coatings provide superior uniform coatings that offer unique advantages, including coating complex metal and non-metal assemblies and conducting post-forming operations on coated parts. 

A-coatings are rigid yet flexible films that compete in functional performance with balking enamels, electroplating, electrocoating, and powder-coating technologies. 

E-Coating: An Introduction

As you’ve read before in our blog posts, E-coating refers to electrocoating or electrophoretic painting. It is a metal coating technology developed to apply anti-corrosive coatings to metal.

The e-coating process involves immersing the metal components in a series of dip tanks. 

First, to pre-treat and apply zirconium conversion coating. Then topcoat, clean, rinse and condition it. 

When dipped into the e-coating materials, the manufacturer activates an electrical current that passes through each tank using the part as an electrode. This electrical activity causes a resin layer to adhere to each piece, coating all surfaces exposed to the substance.

Much like the A-coating process, a part coated with E-coating must be cured after the dipping application.

It is possible to control the thickness of the coating by adjusting the electrical current to the tank. Using a higher voltage will result in a thicker finished layer.

E-Coating Advantages

  • Unlimited throwing power. Wherever the electrocoating can reach, it coats.
  • Coating complex components. Due to the complete immersion of parts, e-coating provides comprehensive coverage. 
  • Exceptional abrasion resistance.
  • Considerable wear resistance.
  • Greater control of finished thickness. Adjusting the voltage controls the coating’s thickness.
  • Less necessary rework needed.
  • Less paint used during the process.
  • Almost no VOC emissions.
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The Differences: A-Coating vs. E-Coating

While these two metal coating technologies may sound similar, the differences between A-coating and E-coating are significant.

The Types Of Bonding

A-coating bonds to metal through a chemical reaction, while E-coating bonds through the application of an electrical current.

The Size Of The Equipment Needed

A-coating process requires fewer dip stations and has a much smaller footprint than the footprint of E-coating equipment. 

The Pretreatment Process

E-coating involves a lengthy pretreatment process with multiple washing, cleaning, rinsing, and conditioning stations.

The Energy Needed

With less equipment, the A-coating process consumes significantly less energy than E-coating.

UV Resistance

While known for its durability, E-coating is vulnerable to UV rays. A-coating is both durable and withstands UV rays.

Environmental Resistance

Both A-coating and E-coating provide excellent protection to metal substrates. E-coating, however, offers better protection in harsher environments than a-coating. 

E-coating solvents have a higher resistance to environmental influence. A small scratch on the component exposes the metal to everything the outside world throws at it. Studies show E-coating offers greater acidic and water resistance than a-coating because of the fluid’s chemical composition. 

A-Coating vs. E-Coating: Why E-Coating Wins (At Least In Our Opinion!)

Providing the same level of environmental resistance using the A-coating process is possible. 

However, it requires depositing more significant quantities of fluid on the substrate. While those increased fluids protect the metal, they also create increased rigidity and brittleness, creating some industrial application issues.

Because of this advantage, electrocoating provides better protection across the spectrum of applications than the a-coating process.

Minnesota Industrial Coatings (MIC) provides consistently high-quality industrial coatings, including electrocoating (e-coating). MIC guides each project through planning, coating, testing, packaging, and shipping. MIC’s expert team works closely with each customer, using leading coatings technologies and eco-sensitive, quality-driven processes. 

Contact us for your coating project today

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E-Coating

Electroplating vs. Electrocoating

To the layman, it might seem as though there’s little to the debate of “electroplating vs. electrocoating.” After all, both of these metal finishing processes provide a second “skin” – a new exterior finish. When executed correctly, both methods also leave an attractive and durable finish. Those “in the know” are conscious of the differences between the two processes, as they lead to far different results. 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!

An Overview Of Electroplating

electroplating-vs-electrocoating-02 “Electroplating” aptly describes the process by which it’s performed: an electrical current passes through a solution containing a metal object. The electrolyte splits, depositing some of its atoms on the metal object – leaving it electroplated. For example, if gold-plating is in order, then the electrolyte must be gold-based. Before electroplating, parts must be cleaned and follow a chemical bath process to prepare or activate a strong bond and strong adhesion. The electroplating bath involves many variables and components. A power supply provides a direct current flow to the parts and the plating bath’s electrical connections. This current flow initiates the attraction of ions in the solution to the metallic component’s surface. For every mole of electrons transferred to the part, one mole of metallic ions in the solution will adhere. Also, a chemical reaction occurs at the surface, involving the reduction and oxidation of ions. Since electroplating involves both an electrical and a chemical reaction at the surface, exposure to the plating chemistry is critical to the finished product’s overall performance. Nesting of components will result in a lack of adhesion or coverage on the finished surface.

Why Is Electroplating Performed?

Electroplating adds properties to metal making it desirable for a wide range of industries, including:
  • Aerospace and defense,
  • Automotive,
  • Medical and dental,
  • Oil and gas, and
  • Telecommunications.

Benefits Of Electroplating

Electroplating enhances or modifies the properties of a metallic part. Depending on the use of the part, a manufacturer may be looking for:
  • better wear and abrasion resistance,
  • better corrosion protection,
  • more excellent lubricity,
  • resistance to friction and abrasion,
  • improved EMI/RFI shielding,
  • temperature and impact resistance,
  • improved electrical conductivity,
  • improved solderability,
  • reduced porosity,
  • added hardness or strength,
  • or to build up thickness on small or undersized parts.
All of these are benefits electroplating offers. In addition to the mechanical or functional properties altered during the electroplating process, the overall aesthetics are also important.

Types Of Plating

Gold plating

Gold plating provides excellent electrical conductivity, making it one of the best choices for electrodes, current-carrying pins, and circuit board components. Gold is ideal for protection against intense heat and corrosion in a wide range of environments.

Silver plating

Silver plating is often used during the manufacturing of electronics (over a copper “flash”) and preferred due to its lower electrical resistance.

Nickel plating

Nickel plating is standard because it offers superior chemical and corrosion resistance and excellent wear resistance, increasing product life cycles. Nickel also provides a bright surface finish that can be adjusted according to customer specifications.

Copper plating

Copper plating is beneficial before the final layer of metal is deposited. Automotive parts, circuit boards, and the defense industry regularly use copper plating. The addition of copper before the final metal deposit can also improve the finished piece’s overall aesthetics.

Combinations

If a single metal does not provide the properties needed, it is also possible to co-deposit two or more metals for an electroplated alloy deposit.

An Overview Of Electrocoating

electroplating-vs-electrocoating-03 Electrocoating, also known as “electrodeposition coating” or “e-coating,” is a painting method that uses electrical current to deposit paint on a surface.

How Is Electrocoating Performed?

Electrocoating is when electrically charged particles are deposited out of a water suspension to coat a conductive part. During the electrocoating process, paint is applied to a piece at a particular film thickness regulated by the voltage used. The deposition of e-coating is self-limiting. It slows down as the coating application electrically insulates the part. It can produce uniform finishes with excellent coverage and outstanding corrosion resistance. Electrocoat is available in decorative colors.

Benefits of E-Coat

There are numerous benefits to e-coating, including cost, line productivity, and environmental advantages. Electrocoating offers higher transfer efficiency, precise film-build control, and low workforce requirements. Increased line productivity occurs due to faster line speeds, the ability to densely rack parts, non-uniform line loading, and reduction in human fatigue or human error. The environmental advantages include: no- or low-VOC products, heavy metal-free products, reduced exposure of workers to hazardous materials, reduced fire hazards, and minimal waste discharge. Generally, e-coats are either used as a primer or as a topcoat. Electrocoats lend themselves to topcoat applications because they feature excellent UV resistance. Electrocoats also perform well on their own in single-coat applications. Why? They are generally superior to popular “liquid primer plus topcoat” paint systems because they deliver overall adhesion and corrosion resistance properties.

The Clash Of The Titans – Electroplating vs. Electrocoating

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The Application

Electrocoating differs from electroplating as it’s performed by applying a free-flowing powder to a surface, then curing it under heat. Like electroplating, the coating is applied to metal surfaces for protective purposes. But unlike electroplated surfaces, powder-coated surfaces are essentially covered in paint – not metal.

The Finish

Electrocoating leaves a finish stronger than paint, making it desirable in applications where a hard finish is required. Electroplating applies metallic particles to the surface of the objects. It can be used on metal, plastic, even glass; the metallic particles can be silver, gold, copper, chrome, nickel, etc. Electrocoating applies organic resin particles on the surface and converts them to an insulating layer on the objects like paint coating. The items must, of course, be metal. Electroplating has many color options. The surface of the plating is shiny and smooth with a metallic texture. Electroplating offers corrosion resistance; it can increase the object’s hardness to withstand friction. You will also find heat & humidity resistance and lubricity. Electrocoating has fewer color options, and the surface is matte. Electrocoating does insulate well, providing good heat & humidity resistance. Compared to electroplating, the coating layer is thinner and evenly deposited, applied on every corner of the object. It offers less resistance than electroplating, and it’s cost-effective and environmentally-friendly.

Working On Complex Shapes Or Large Sizes

Let’s face it; manufactured parts come in all sizes and shapes. Electrocoat excels over other technologies because all surfaces receive a consistent film thickness.

The Waste Factor

E-coating is an extremely efficient process. On average, 95 percent (or more) of the process’s components (resin, pigment, and other additives) will eventually be applied and used on the product. Except in the rare cases of catastrophic tank contamination, the amount of paint solids requiring waste treatment on a regular operating basis is minimal.

Talking To The Electrocoating Experts

Now we understand the benefits of electroplating vs. electrocoating. The deciding factor between the two processes is the finished product’s intended use. The more critical the component is in the hi-tech industry, the more likely metal plating services are in order. 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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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!

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.