Powder coating is a significant advancement in coating technology that provides a robust, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly solution to the finish of your metal projects. Tracing its roots back to the 1940s in Germany, modern electrostatic processing of powder coating made its debut in the 1960s. Today, it is preferred over traditional wet painting due to its many inherent benefits.
This unique process uses a mixture of polymer resins, pigments, curative additives, leveling agents, and flow modifiers that are melted together, cooled, and ground into a powder. This powder is electrostatically charged and applied to bare, pretreated metal components, ensuring proper adhesion. When cured in an oven, the high heat triggers a chemical reaction forming resistant, long molecular chains. The result is a high-quality, durable colored finish that withstands impacts, moisture, chemicals, UV light, and extreme weather conditions without the risks of scratches, abrasions, fading, or chipping.
In-house Powder Coating: A Game-changer
Partnering with a contract metal manufacturer that offers in-house powder coating, like TuscoMFG, provides significant benefits, such as receiving the highest quality results while saving you time and money. Since the parts never leave the facility between fabrication and powder coating, time and shipping savings are immediately gained, and there is no risk of parts being damaged in transit.
How Tusco’s Automated Powder Coating Booth Works
Our state-of-the-art process starts with a rigorous inspection of the parts post-fabrication. Our 3-stage wash system uses iron phosphate detergents heated to 120°F to activate the chemicals and thoroughly clean parts. This wash is followed by two rinse stages, ensuring the removal of all residue. The parts are then dried at 220°F before moving to the powder coating stage.
Acceptable parts are carefully masked, and an 800 ft overhead monorail conveyor is used for increased efficiency. Powder application happens through a ten-nozzle automated system with five nozzles on each side of the booth.
The system is designed to electrostatically charge the powder so that it optimally adheres to the clean, grounded metal parts. Automation ensures uniform application and coverage while minimizing waste. To further enhance efficiency, our setup includes two unload lines, allowing for the simultaneous processing of two different parts receiving the same powder coating. This allows for maximum part density, reducing the amount of wasted powder. We’re also equipped for smaller runs, with experienced associates manually applying the coating to deliver top-notch results.
Testing and Quality Assurance
Tusco is committed to maintaining a high standard of quality. To ensure the effectiveness of the coating process, we conduct several tests, including the MEK (Methyl Ethyl Ketone) solvent test on a 12×12 panel to verify proper curing. MEK is a harsh solvent that will remove regular paint. The test is conducted by rubbing a MEK-dipped cotton swab 25 times back and forth on a portion of the powder-coated part. If no coating comes off, we know the part has been properly cured.
Another quality control test we perform is the crosshatch test. Using a specially designed tool, a quality technician will scratch a crosshatch into the surface and brush away any debris. Tape is applied to the scratch area, removing all air bubbles so that the entire surface is in contact with the tape. The tape is quickly removed and evaluated to see if any material is lifted off. On a part that has been properly pretreated, coated, and cured, there should be no material on the tape.
Endless Possibilities with Tusco
At Tusco, we offer various powder coating options, including clear, metallics, textured, matte, high gloss, and ripple. We can even match any color, including your brand’s color. One of our unique offerings is creating a rusted look with a clear coating for added appeal. We can even achieve translucent colors, truly opening up a world of possibilities for your project.
If your part experiences tough outdoor conditions, such as UV or road salt exposure, additives can be added to the powder to ensure your parts can withstand the harshest environments.
With Tusco as your single vendor for design, fabrication, finishing, powder coating, assembly, packaging, and shipping, you can reduce costs, streamline the process, and manage fewer vendors. Our team is consistently trained and updated on the latest industry practices, including attending workshops at the Powder Coating Institute to deliver the best results every time.
If consistent quality and a durable finish are what you seek, TuscoMFG is the way to go. Let’s start creating today!