Powder Coating VS Painting: Which One Is Better?
Duality has existed since the beginning of everything, interweaved in the very fabric of nature: light and darkness, liberals and conservatives, men and women. Some of this duality, like the dichotomy of good and evil receives a lot of public attention while the rest is subtle, emerging only as it becomes important in certain situations. The sheet metal fabrication business, for instance, witnesses grudge matches between the most ideal finishing techniques for individual products, and the decision is rarely unanimous, if ever. When putting wet paint and plating versus powder coating, and you will find yourself assessing each case individually to reach a decision. In order to choose the best sheet metal finishing technique for your product, you must first understand where each of them succeeds and fails, as well as the basic principles and processes involved. This is what we have attempted to outline in this article.
This finishing process involves the electrostatic application of a dry powder, a free-floating coating on a surface which then settles into place with the application of heat. This powder coating comes in a number of varieties depending on whether it’s made of polyurethane, polyester, acrylics, straight epoxy, or polyester-epoxy. The outcome of the power coating finishing process is a tough, thick finish, which is harder and more durable than common paints. This kind of coating is popularly used on a number of products, including automobile parts and various household appliances.
When powder coating a surface, one of these two processes can be opted for: thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermosetting makes use of chemicals that react to the powder when heated, whereas thermoplastics melt and set into the coating upon heating, and no additional chemicals are involved in the process. Barring this, the two processes are almost similar and appear visually identical. The thermoplastic and thermoset powders are created by binding the powder input, applying heat to the mixture, and rolling out the polymer product, which is then broken down into chips and ground further until a fine powdery state is achieved.
When the powder has been created and is ready to be applied, the surface is readied for application. This normally involves wiping the metal surface clean of any oils or debris that may prevent the powder from attaching completely. Next comes the electrostatic application, where a high voltage electrostatic surge charges the dry powder and the surface. Charging up the powder and the surface in this manner enhances the efficiency of the coating process by as much as 95%, reducing paint wastage and ensuring the product is completely coated.
The coated object is then left under a high temperature of 400 degrees for 10 minutes to allow the coating to set onto the surface. The high temperature melts the powder, allowing it to wrap around the object, all the while binding the polymer into heavier network-like polymer finish.
Advantages Of Powder Coating
Powder coating has a number of benefits, one of which has already been mentioned earlier. Powder coating a metal object allows for a dense sturdy finish, more durable than conventional paints. Secondly, this process only requires a single coat so it is fast, efficient, and easy. In addition to its ease of application, it allows for custom textured and colored finishes as the powders involved can be nicely manipulated. Furthermore, powder coating objects result in a remarkably even finish as the powder melts and sets across the entire object at once, leaving no application traces or drips. Finally, the powder coating process is environmentally friendly as it produces minimal volatile organic compounds.
Disadvantages Of Powder Coating
With a number of benefits, there are also some disadvantages of powder coating. The first is its inability to produce a thin finish. Although a thick sturdy finish on metal objects works well in most cases but some objects require a thinner finish which is where powder coating fails. Attempting to thin the polymer results in a course, bumpy finish much like an orange peel. Another drawback is the complexity and expensive nature of the procedure, making it unsuitable for small-scale sheet metal applications. The process requires electrostatic equipment, spray materials, and an oven which could all be too much work and expense for a minor application.
Wet Paint and Plating
Wet paint has been used for years as the conventional finishing coat, although the process has seen various changes with technological development. A majority of sheet metal fabrication procedures make use of a pump, spray, or another form of a pressurized applicant to evenly deliver the paint over the metal surface. Plating, on the other hand, is the process of depositing metal on a conductive metal surface – think gold-plated jewelry. Objects can be plated for the purposes of decoration, hardening, corrosion prevention, friction reduction or to improve paint adhesion and wearability.
Similar to powder coating, the metal surface is wiped thoroughly clean first, after which liquid paint is evenly blasted onto the object to a thickness of about 15-20 micrometers. The process ends once the object has been evenly coated with paint to the required thickness. The plating process is much more complicated and will vary depending on the metal being used for plating and the required finishing effect. The general procedure involves the object being covered with the plating metal with heat and pressure being applied to the metal and the object to fuse them together. Some processes will also use certain liquids, vacuums, or vapors as substitutes to heat and pressure.
Advantages Of Wet Painting
Wet paint and plating excel where powder coating fails. Its first benefit is that it can be used to coat objects that can’t be heated, as the process does not require high temperatures to succeed. The second benefit is the wide range of colors paint finish and plating can produce, allowing for much more custom color works than powder coating. The third advantage it has over powder coating is its ability to produce a thin finish, making it ideal for objects that require one. The final benefit is economic; wet paint is more affordable as a finishing process than powder coating, making it suitable for both large and small finishing applications.
Disadvantaged Of Wet Painting
The disadvantage of both wet paint and plating is their lack of durability as compared to powder coating, with both requiring regular maintenance and re-finishing from time to time. The second disadvantage of paint is its inability to achieve an even finish the first time around, with the object requiring several coats to attain an unblemished and even finish. Unlike powder coating which uses powder as the initial coat, this process uses liquid paint which can be tricky to spread across the body of the object keeping the thickness consistent.
Is Powder Coating or Wet Painting Better For My Application?
Powder coating is better if you need a durable protective finish on your metal object. Painting is better if you need to paint your metal object inexpensively. Simply put, this is one battle that has no winners. Which one is best for you will depend on the kind of application, and the products involved, along with several other factors. It is always advisable to consult a professional for an expert opinion and they will lay out all the possibilities for you with regard to your needs and of your product and customers. All three finishing methods will provide an appealing and functional finish for your product.
Powder Coating Cost vs Paint Cost
The average cost of powder coating is about $2,000 vs the average cost of painting which is about $1,900. Powder coating is a great alternative to painting. Powder coating is mostly used when you need a durable protective finish added to a metal product. It’s highly used to apply finishes to vehicles.
Powder Coating Cost
On average, powder coating costs about $2,000. Car powder coating costs ranged from $1,000 to $3,000 in the US for 2019.
On average, painting costs about $1,900. Car painting costs ranged from $300 to $3,500 for the US in 2019.
Painting is common technique that uses wet paint vs a dry coating to paint the surface of the product. It’s a simpler process because you don’t need to cure paint.
STP Performance Coating
POWDER COATING is a type of coating that is applied as a free flowing, dry powder. Powder coating is a high-quality durable finish found on thousands of products. STP Peformance Coating offers liquid painting, powder coating service in Phoenix, AZ and the surrounding cities. With over 200+ colors in stock, and the ability to order thousands more, STP offers a variety of options including candies, textures, metal flakes, flat, semi-gloss, glossy, and clear-coat finishes available. We can match and accommodate every idea. Give us a call today at (602) 276-1231 if you are interested in any of our services.