Class “A” Powder Coating

Is it possible to achieve class A cosmetic standards for high-gloss coating with older equipment?

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Q. We run a job shop and we do mostly large-volume general industrial parts. We have not been very successful with parts that need high cosmetic standards such as appliance or automotive. Our system is reliable, but the equipment is kind of old, and we do not use automatic guns. We have now been asked to take on a job that requires a class “A” appearance in a high-gloss black powder. The part is used for exterior automotive. We are very interested in the job but not sure that our system can perform at that level. Your thoughts? –C.J.

A. A common issue that I have dealt with during my career is working with companies to reduce blemishes in the film caused by particulate. When you analyze some high gloss coatings, the small debris that may go unnoticed in some powder materials may be highly visible in others. A small amount of fiber, dust, or other materials can cause a reject in a product that has high appearance standards. The same particles in another finish may be invisible or unimportant.

I would be very cautious about quoting or accepting the work without some trials of the powder and possibly the subject parts. True class “A” finishes need to coated on systems that are designed and maintained for that level of cosmetic quality. Powder rooms with air control, oven cleaning, a clean shop, a conveyor pan and other features are built into the design to provide the protection needed against the normal dirt in and around a coating operation. I suggest you stay away from this work, unless you can prove to yourself that you can do it and produce a high yield of defect-free parts.

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