Powder Coating Carbon Fiber

I am considering re-painting my mountain bike frame. However, my frame is carbon fiber. Can this material be powder coated? Are there any special preparation considerations? Can I take the frame to a media-blasting house and have them strip all of the current paint and primer off, or is that asking for trouble?


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Q. I am considering re-painting my mountain bike frame. I am really intrigued by powder coating due to its ease of application, durability and wide range of color options. However, my frame is carbon fiber. Can this material be powder coated? Are there any special preparation considerations? Can I take the frame to a media-blasting house and have them strip all of the current paint and primer off, or is that asking for trouble?

My frame is currently painted with a matte finish; the finish almost looks like etched glass. There are many surface scrapes and scratches after eleven years of hard use. The frame is still structurally sound and the Trek “Y” frame bikes are no longer being manufactured, so I’m trying to refurbish my existing frame for another 10-15 years of use. I want a finish that will be durable, fairly lightweight. I’ve seen pictures of some really exotic powder coated items (mainly in the custom automotive industry) and I’m hoping I can do something similar to my bike. D. G.

 

A. I am starting to get a lot of questions from hobbyists and individual homeowner type readers. This makes me wonder: Are they selling PRODUCTS FINISHING Magazine in the checkout lines of the local grocery stores now? Imagine my column in a magazine next to a copy of People Magazine with a photo of Britney Spears on the cover. I guess that this isn’t a problem, as long as you don’t ask me for fashion advice.

The best advice I can give you is “DON’T DO IT!!!!” All the hype you read about powder coatings are valid when comparing them to liquid paints primarily on metal substrates. However, none of these performance advantages apply to a carbon fiber substrate. For instance, you don’t have to worry about corrosion resistance with carbon fiber. Putting a powder coating on a carbon fiber bike is just plain wrong. You can find many more colors and flamboyant finishers available in liquid. Media blasting carbon fiber is also very risky, unless a plastic media is used. Save yourself the extra money and just stick with a good liquid paint, applied under proper conditions by an expert.
 

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