Electrocoat-- The Next Step

Article From: Products Finishing, , from The Electrocoat Association

Posted on: 8/1/1997

The advantages of electrocoating and its new Association...

Electrocoat technology can hardly be called new. Since its commercialization in the early 1960's as an automobile body primer, this technology has grown and matured to become the "Environomic" (environmentally friendly and economically efficient) process it is today. The electrocoat industry today serves much more than the automotive market. Engineers for an array of products have opted for electrocoat over other liquid and powder coating processes because of the tremendous advantages electrocoat has, particularly in the areas of application techniques, efficiency, automation and environmental compliance.

Types of electrocoat. Electrocoat paint systems use electrical current to deposit paint onto a part. The basic principle of electrocoating is that materials with opposite electrical charges attract. An electrocoat system applies a specific charge to a part that is immersed in a bath of paint particles with an opposite charge. The paint particles are drawn to the part, and paint is deposited on the part, forming an even, continuous film over every surface until the coating reaches the desired thickness. At that thickness, the film encases the part, attraction stops and electrocoating is complete. Depending on the polarity of the charge, electrocoating is classified as either anodic or cathodic.

Anodic. In anodic electrocoating, the part to be coated is the anode, having a positive electrical charge. This attracts the negatively charged paint particles in the paint bath. The main use for products that use this type of electrocoat is interior or moderate exterior environments. Anodic coatings are economical systems that offer excellent color and gloss control.

Cathodic. In cathodic electrocoating, the workpiece is given a negative charge, which attracts the positively charged paint particles. Cathodic coatings are high-performance coatings with excellent corrosion resistance and can be formulated for exterior durability.

Advantages of Electrocoat. One advantage of electrocoat is application. It provides total coverage of complex-shaped parts. It coats all recessed areas and sharp edges. It provides excellent film uniformity without sags, runs or drips. Electrocoating allows for precise film build control. Thickness is easily controlled using simple voltage adjustment. Also, parts can be assembled prior to coating.

Electrocoating also has economical advantages, including total automation so no direct labor is required. It provides for high productivity, allowing dense and non-uniform line loading. Parts pass very quickly through the production line, resulting in lower unit costs. The process has high transfer efficiency, approaching 100 pct. Electrocoating has low energy requirements since no drying or flash-off time is required. Minimal exhaust and air make-up are needed as well as reduced cure times and temperatures.

Electrocoat systems are low maintenance with minimal hook cleaning and no "booth" maintenance. Insurance rates are minimal because there are no specific fire or health hazards.

There are a number of environmental advantages to electrocoating as well. Electrocoating emits low or zero VOCs and HAPs. Operators are not required to wear any special personal protection. The system is totally enclosed. The process produces minimal solid waste since it is a closed-loop system, which minimizes water loss. Since it is a waterborne system, fire hazards are reduced.

What's Ahead. Manufacturers are continuously forging into new markets, with new products that will allow electrocoat to grow and allow end-product manufacturers to install more automated systems that meet operational efficiency, high-performance, cost-effective and environmental compliance requirements. More applications for temperature-sensitive substrates such as plastics, rubber and composites are being developed throughout the industry and will certainly come into the marketplace.

Forging ahead, preparing for the future are themes familiar to us all. They are about changes in the way we do business in a global economy; and about accelerating ourselves, our companies and our industry into the next century. It is appropriate then, that in the first quarter of 1998, the 35th year since the commercialization of electrocoat, a new resource for the entire electrocoat industry is launched—The Electrocoat Association.

The primary focus of the Association is to promote and advance electrocoat technology. By communicating the benefits of this technology to manufacturers, consumers and government, the needs of members will be continually served. In turn, members are committed to total quality in their products and services, the safety of their own and customers' work forces and in environmental protection.

What's in it for you? The Association would provide technical information on the latest electrocoating technology. The information would be developed by Association committees dealing with specific technical issues critical to the industry.

Through a national advertising campaign launched industry-wide, electrocoat market growth will be spurred by promoting the advantages of electrocoat technology.

Industry briefings providing timely information about the industry as well as programs and activities will be submitted.

A Membership Directory will be available. Also, Internet access through the Electrocoat Association web site will provide technical information for all segments of the industry on a continuously updated database.

Membership in the Association provides you the opportunity to expand business contacts by meeting, working with and exchanging ideas with colleagues from all components of the industry.

The Association will also serve as a career resource service and provide discounts on educational events.

What you can do. Representatives from member companies are encouraged to contribute expertise to committees that focus on specific issues. Committee projects are the backbone of the Association's technical activities, enabling members to tackle issues of industry-wide concern. The committees are as follows: Communications (marketing, media relations); Conference steering committee; Membership; Technical issues/training (equipment, chemicals, etc.); Troubleshooting/problem solving; and Government relations.

Whatever your relationship is to the electrocoat industry, The Electrocoat Association has benefits and services designed to make your job easier, your employees perform better, your forecasts tighter and your sales figures higher.

There are many economic and environmental advantages to electrocoating. The Electrocoat Association makes it even more beneficial to do electrocoating. Learn more about electrocoating and the new Electrocoat Association by contacting The Electrocoat Association, Cindy J. Goodridge, Executive Director, 6915 Valley Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45244; telephone 1-800-950-8977 or 513-527-8977; Fax 513-527-8950.

End Use Properties Added By Electrocoat
Agriculture Equipment High Gloss, Color Control, Weatherability, Corrosion Resistance
Appliance Corrosion and Stain Resistance, Color Control
Automotive Corrosion and Chip Resistance, Weatherability
Automotive Components Corrosion, Chemical and Chip Resistance
Containers (Can Coatings) Barrier and Chemical Resistance, FDA-Approved, No Effect on Flavor
Electrical Switchgear Corrosion Resistance and U.L. Approval
Fasteners Corrosion and Edge Coverage
Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling Corrosion Resistance, Color Control, and Weatherability
Laboratory Furniture Chemical, Stain, and Corrosion Resistance, Color Control
Lawn and Garden Corrosion Resistance and Weatherability
Printed Circuit Boards Edge Coverage and Hardness
Shelving and Furniture Color Control, Hardness, and Stain Resistance
Wheels Corrosion and Chip Resistance, Weatherability


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