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DIY Guide to Powder Coating Removal

Posted on: May 9th, 2018 by byersbushblog

Why would you want to remove powder coating? There are actually a number of different reasons why anyone would want to do it. The foremost and most common of all would be to correct errors or the outcome was not as expected. It does not matter what your reason is, the important thing to know is that there are a couple of ways that you can properly do it. What are these?

Overview How to Remove Powder Coating

If you have not done it before, you must know that removing powder coat can be quite challenging especially when the process was done properly. This is because the final coat is expected to be durable enough to withstand harsh elements and last for a long time. So expect some resistance when removing the coat or what is commonly known as stripping.

When you intend to replace the coat, make sure that the entire portion is cleaned properly after stripping. You also need to go through the entire preparation and treatment process before you can do another powder coating process or maybe repainting it. Be prepared to do a lot of work if you are going to do it yourself.

The volume of work to be done would of course depend on the actual size of the material to be stripped and the volume of the material. This is also the reason why you need to be aware of the various stripping options so that you can choose the right one for what you want to achieve. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages that you have to be aware of.

Let us take a look at the available options to you.

powder-coating-removal

First Method to Remove Powder Coating

One of the most common options used for removing powder coating is the use of chemical strippers. The chemical stripper removes the powder coat from the material surface completely.

There are different types of chemical strippers depending on the type of applications in use. When in a high production environment where stripping is done in volume, a dip tank chemical stripper is often called for. This allows you to simply immerse the material to be stripped and allow the chemical to do its job.

When stripping specific parts of the material, a brush on chemical stripping process would be used. Professional stripping services would normally both options on hand so that they can deliver the requirements for as many clients as possible.

Why should you consider chemical stripping? One of the most convincing reasons is that the chemical will completely clean the surface of the material, making it easier to prepare it for a replacement coat. When you use other stripping methods, there may be some noticeable differences on how the powder coat has been removed. The equipment is also comparatively cheaper and can be applied for small and large volume of stripping.

Unfortunately, this process can be considered a bit risky and entails strict compliance to environmental disposal guidelines. You also have no profile to follow for the application of the new coat on the material surface. The profile is usually important if you have plans of using paint to coat the material surface as a replacement for the powder coat.

Chemical stripping is also preferred for removing powder coating from aluminum because it is comparatively easier than power sanding and does not pose much harm to the material. To ensure that chemical stripping is done properly, you will need a dedicated workspace where you can do brush on chemical stripping or for large volume stripping, an isolated area to place the full dip tank system. You also need a proper disposal system for the chemical.

What is Required to Use Chemical Strippers?

Aside from the aforementioned requirements like a full dip tank for chemical stripping, there are other considerations that you should be aware of. Since chemicals can be quite risky to use, you must be equipped with the proper materials to protect yourself as you do the stripping process

To use chemical strippers you will need the following safety materials:

  • Heavy duty rubber gloves;
  • Safety glasses;
  • Respirator mask; and
  • Drop cloth.

powder coating stripping

Source: Metal Cleaning System

If it is your first time to go through the chemical stripping process for powder coating, make sure that you have read through the complete guide on how to do it correctly.

Get the Complete Guide to Powder Coating Stripping

To have the complete guide to powder coating stripping, you have to be aware of the other alternative options you can use.

  • Heat (Thermal)

Another popular way of stripping powder coat is to use heat in removing the finish. This is achieved by relying on a burn off, bake off, or fluidized bed system. Regardless which of these systems you choose, you will need to make sure that the proper temperature is applied to effectively strip the powder coat.

The temperature will also dictate the speed of completing the stripping process. Normally, for a bake off system the required temperature is anywhere from 640 to 750 degrees. This allows you to remove the powder coat from the parts in about 3 to 6 hours.

If you choose the burn off system, you will need to reach temperature ranges of 1000 to 1200 degrees. This strips the powder coat from the material surface in just a couple of minutes. After which, you would need to wash off the stripped coat to clean off the surface. Usually you will find this system in wide usage in many high production environments because of the speed it strips the powder coat.

The fluidized bed system makes use of heated abrasive media that is rubbed against the material surface to strip away the powder coat. You will need to reach temperatures of about 800 degrees.

Heat stripping systems deliver fast and convenient options for removing powder coating on a wide variety of surfaces. Compared to chemical stripping, it has significantly reduced impact on the environment. Professionals would agree that the use of heat in powder coating stripping is one of the quickest ways to do volume stripping.

Unfortunately, heat stripping systems can be quite costly. It is also rarely used for removing coating from aluminum because the heat may damage the product. There is also the issue of supplying enough gas or electricity to the system to ensure the right temperature levels can be achieved during the stripping process. After heat stripping you still need to go through the wash phase to make sure that the stripped powder coat is completely removed from the material surface before you can proceed to the next stage. You also need to be aware of the possibility of the heat affecting any underlying parts of the material and may not be suitable to exposure to high temperatures. And as with chemical stripping, there will be no profile left on the material surface to use for the application of the new coat.

  • Abrasive Blasting

This stripping process is commonly done in either a sandblast room or a sandblast cabinet. This is to make sure that the abrasive media that is propelled at high speeds would be contained within the sandblast area and will not damage any other materials that may be lying around the workplace. This is part of the safety requirements for this type of powder coating removal process.

Abrasive-Blasting

Source: expertherald

Full rooms are normally used when the material to be stripped is too large to fit into a sandblast cabinet. You cannot use just any type of room. You have to make sure that the sandblast room is properly prepared for use with aggressive blast media types like steel grit or aluminum oxide.

It is important to use the right type of media based on the thickness of the powder coat you want to strip. One of the best ways to test is to strip a small area of the material first to see the effect. Sometimes lighter media like glass beads yield the best stripping results. In most instances a sandblast cabinet would be sufficient enough unless you want to do production level powder coating stripping.

The benefits of abrasive blasting cannot be denied. Especially when you consider that it is an adequate solution for stripping anything from small parts to large batches of stripping work in a production line. This is also widely considered as a portable option for stripping as you can rely on a standard portable sandblast pot to strip away the coating from small materials. Unlike the previous options, abrasive blasting leaves the profile on the material surface. This means that you reduce the process needed for the application of a new coat on the stripped material.

As much as abrasive blasting sounds the most ideal option in removing powder coating, it does have some drawbacks that you need to be aware of. If you compare it to chemical stripping and heat (thermal) systems, abrasive blasting does not remove the coat in as short a time as the previous options. So in the context of high production environments, it is not a suitable solution. Using abrasive blasting can also be a bit expensive if you will need a sandblast room for the solution. Aside from the sandblast room or cabinet, you will also need an air compressor and a blast gun to apply the appropriate media. This can translate to additional costs for this option.

  • Laser

These are not the type of lasers that you often see in movies or television programs. For powder coating stripping, we use specially designed lasers to effectively remove the powder coat from the material surface. As with most stripping options, you have to consider the actual thickness of the powder coat that you want to remove. This will dictate just how fast you can complete the job and move on to the next phase before you can apply the replacement coat.

The great thing with laser stripping is that it can be used on small areas and even on large surfaces. It is also not very particular on the type of material to be stripped. There is no alteration that occurs on the substrate and this is considered as the safest stripping option based on the impacts that it has on the environment. The surface of the material that will be stripped will not be altered because heat will not touch the surface during the stripping process, which means it can be applied to powder coated aluminum materials.

Although laser stripping sounds advanced as far as technology is concerned, there are some negative aspects to this option. The foremost of these drawbacks is that lasers can be quite costly to acquire. So if you are not planning on a production environment stripping, it may not be sensible to invest in a laser stripper. There is also no profile left on the surface of the material once the stripping process has been completed. So you will need to go through additional steps before you can replace the powder coating finish of the material.

If you want to know more about the powder coating process or need professional work to be done, contact Byers Bush now!

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