Fact: it is utterly challenging to powder coat non-metallic materials. Why? Because they lack the necessary electric conductivity that will support the entire electrostatic process that serves as the foundation for powder coating. So does this mean it is impossible to powder coat non-metal materials? Is there a workaround that can be easily done? Let’s take a look.
Powder Coated Materials
There are a number of materials that are preferred for use with the powder coating process. Obviously, the most commonly preferred is metal because of its high electric conductivity. However, aside from metal, you may also use wood, composites, glass, plastic, and MDF among others.
With non-metal products, the first thing that you must establish is that the material should be able to withstand high temperatures. For example, with plastics, most of these will melt once the temperature reaches 400 degrees; it will be simply too hot for it to withstand. You also need to know how long the material can be subjected to high temperatures.
Powder Coating Non-Metallic Materials
Now, the challenge, how do you powder coat non-metallic items? This is considering that they are not electrically conductive. First off, when powder coating metals, electrostatic charge is used to allow the powder to attach to the metal for the duration that the material remains grounded.
For other non-metallic materials like glass, wood, or plastic that lack the electric conductivity, you cannot spray powder. Why? Because you will be wasting the powder, because there is no way that it will stick to the material and will just end up on the ground wasted. What do you do?
One of the best solutions is to pre-heat non-metallic materials before they are subjected to the powder coating process. Put the object in the oven and heat it up. Afterwards, remove the object from the oven and apply the powder before the material completely cools down. Once the powder comes in contact with the pre-heated section of the material, it will melt slightly upon contact allowing it to stick.
After completely coating the material, you can put it back into the over and allow it to cure normally to complete the process. Some powder coating services have also suggested washing the material with water so that it creates a temporary conductive surface that will allow the powder to stick to allow for the powder coating process to continue.
It is necessary to point out some precautions when doing powder coating on pre-heated, non-metallic items. Some of the things that you must actively watch out for are:
- Ensuring the powder coat is not too thick;
- Overlooking the amount of powder used because it immediately melts upon contact; and
- Making sure that the coat does not run like paint or create craters because this will affect the chip resistance of the finish.
Another avenue to pursue is a method known as hot-flocking, wherein you heat only the part that will be powder coated up to the point where the temperature can cure the powder. Remove the material from the oven and spray the powder immediately. The powder melts upon contact and will instantly flow. Although seemingly simpler, the chances of applying too much coating increases.
Just like in powder coating metallic materials, the ability to coat several types of materials simultaneously is very possible. This is even if many are not aware that non-metallic materials can be powder coated. Achieving a beautiful finish similar to metallic objects can be done with a bit of patience.
The great news is that this expands you creative horizon allowing you to apply powder coat on virtually any type of materials (depending on its ability to withstand heat). You can now execute beautifully crafted designs with ease.
If you need help with your powder coating needs, the 40 years of experience of Byers Bush Powder Coating Inc. will serve you well. Contact Byers Bush today to get the benefits of high performance powder coating for metal and non metal equipment.