Powder Coating for Dummies

Well, not really for dummies.


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Well, not really for dummies. In fact, the EcoFlex and MicroFlex powder coating systems from Infratrol Manufacturing Corp. (New Berlin, WI) might be suited for smart companies who want to get started in powder coating with minimal fuss.

But the "For Dummies" bit gives you the general idea: These systems are designed to make setting up and operating an in-house powder coating line about as simple and painless as it can possibly be. They are are also said to be very economical to operate: According to Infratrol, metered energy costs on an EcoFlex system on its shop floor total only $3.20/hr.

The company says the systems are small-footprint, ultra-low energy usage powder coat lines with multiple unique features. The main difference between the two systems is the type of pretreatment used. The pretreatment process in the EcoFlex system is Plaforization, an ambient-temperature, single-step technique that reduces energy consumption, minimizes floor space requirements and produces no effluent. MicroFlex systems use a more conventional pretreatment sequence, usually a three-stage clean/rinse/iron phosphate cycle.

Both systems feature a dry-off oven after pretreatment that uses excess heat from the system’s infrared curing oven to further reduce energy demand. The curing system itself uses about half the energy of a conventional system by alternating banks of emitters and engineered reflectors. Infratrol says the curing system control enables curing of many complicated components that do not conform to the "line of sight" limitations of IR curing. The final step in the process is an ambient cool-down chamber that leads to the part load/unload area.

Both systems are modular, which speeds installation and start-up. Use of standardized stations for pretreatment, dry-off, paint application, curing and cooling allows users to easily expand or relocate systems.

The basic EcoFlex system has a 28 x 25-ft (700 ft2) footprint and a booth opening 10 inches wide x 30 inches deep. It can handle parts up to 30 inches long. The smallest MicroFlex system features an 875 ft2 footprint. In both cases, other systems with slightly larger footprints can handle parts to 48 inches long. Users can select systems with conveyors that operate at speeds of either 4 or 8 fpm.

Infratrol says the systems are also environmentally friendly. EcoFlex systems with Plaforization pretreatment don’t even require access to a drain. Neither system generates hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), halogenated hydrocarbons (HHCs), chlorinated fluorinated compounds (CFCs), ozone-depleting substances or nitrogen or sulfur oxide combustion products. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are very low, with exhaust products converting to CO2 and water within 48 hr. Total CO2 emissions are said to be a fraction of those of powder coating systems with gas burners. The systems are available in 480-, 240-, 208- or 575-volt electrical configurations.