Paint Removal Options
Can I build a fluidized bed with this size?
Q. I work for a company that manufactures ranch equipment. Many of our products use powder coating for painting and any defect painted product is sent to a burn-off oven to be stripped and reused. In the future, we plan to either build a newer burn-off oven or build a fluidized bed for paint stripping. I am currently researching which process world be best for our product. The dimensions of this fluidized bed or oven would have to be around 20 × 7.5 × 10 ft. Our products consist of mostly gates and fencing panels 12–16 ft. long by 5–8 ft. tall. Could a fluidized bed be built and used for something of this size? I have read that fluidized beds tend to have a more upfront cost, but will they cost less to maintain than a burn-off oven?
A. Both options (burn-off oven and fluidized bed) use elevated temperatures to degrade and burn the paint. Operating temperatures are in similar ranges (approximately 800°F), so utility costs would probably be similar. The up-front cost of the burn-off oven is likely lower than that of the fluidized bed system, especially given the size of the parts you are in need of stripping. I am unsure of the size limitations of fluidized bed systems, but your bed would likely be one of the larger ones. Burn-off ovens can accommodate the size of your parts.
There would be a couple of advantages with the fluidized bed stripping process. One would be that the process has moving sand that is part of the fluidized bed, which gently removes the burnt paint residue from the part. With a burn-off oven, the residual powder coating needs to be removed from the surface of the work piece before further processing can occur. Another possible advantage to the fluidized bed process would be the potential to sequentially strip parts without the need to wait for several pieces and batch them at one time. However, this may also be a disadvantage because start-up of the fluidized bed system is more involved than a simple burn-off oven. If your manufacturing process lends itself to batch stripping, you will either incur unnecessary utility costs for leaving the fluidized bed system operational without parts running through it, or require a more lengthy and complex start up process to use it as a batch process. I suggest reviewing potential vendors for both types of equipment on pfonline.com under Suppliers and Paint Stripping.
Originally published in the August 2015 issue.