For those of you that didn't make it to the Powder Coating '00 show, I thought I would fill you in on the latest trends.
The first is quick color change equipment. While powder coating has provided finishers with high transfer efficiencies due to its recyclability, powder's recyclability has slowed color change times because of the difficulty in cleaning the entire powder coating system (booth, hoses, feed systems, etc.) However, three of the largest equipment manufacturers now have quick color change technology that promises complete color change in 15 min or less. In fact, one manufacturer showed me results from a finisher in France that was recycling two colors and spraying to waste eight colors and achieving color change times less than 120 sec. The same manufacturer, when recycling eight colors and spraying to waste two colors, was achieving complete color change in less than 500 sec.
Another hot topic is ultraviolet (UV) and low-cure powder coatings. Because traditional powder coatings cure at more than 350F, the powder coating industry has not been able to break into industries with temperature-sensitive substrates. However, both UV and low-temperature powder coatings cure at temperatures less than 220F. UV powder coatings have an additional advantage in that they can dramatically increase process efficiency due to their quick "cure" times, under 1-2 min total, compared to more than 15 minutes for traditional powder coatings.
While the first two trends can help powder coaters increase revenue through improved process efficiencies and the ability to tap new markets, the third can help reduce costs. Several companies displayed control systems for the entire powder coating line. These PC-based systems can monitor and automatically control everything from the pretreatment to the waste treatment system. These systems can improve finish quality, limiting the amount of rework, and reduce chemical and powder use. One system even allows the finisher to control the line through an Internet connection. This is a real benefit for those companies with more than one facility, since paint managers can check on each system from one location.
That's just some of what we saw at the industry's latest trade show. Be on the lookout for more information and articles about these topics in upcoming issues of Products Finishing.