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Powder Coating Q&A: To Reclaim or Not to Reclaim

Should we reclaim our colors for reuse?

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Q. We have a powder booth and cyclone recovery system capable of reclaiming colors for reuse. We're not sure how to determine whether or not to reclaim some of our colors. What method can we use to help us make that decision?

A. The decision on whether or not to reclaim powder is based on a comparison of the value of the powder that can be reclaimed versus the investment required to reclaim it. The variables that you need to input are:

  • How much powder will be over-sprayed into the recovery system?
  • What is the dollar value of the over-sprayed powder?
  • What is my cost in time and labor to reclaim the over-sprayed powder?

For example, assume that the time in the color is around one hour. The system has eight automatic guns. The total amount of powder sprayed during the one hour run is 200 pounds and the transfer efficiency is 60 percent. The total powder sprayed into the recovery system is 80 pounds. The powder cost per pound is $2.50. The total value of the powder over-sprayed is $200. The system will take two people around 15 minutes to change from this color into the next color. Taking into account the fixed cost of the system (dollars required to support the system; rent, staff, building utilities, and so on) and the labor to make the change, the cost for that 15 minutes of downtime is around $150. Fixed cost varies a lot depending on the size of the facility and the business. Considering that you cannot make money on the line when it is down for color change, this comparison is close and it may not be a good value. Once you have done the math a couple of times you will understand how long you need to be in a high value color to justify the reclaim cost.

Long runs of the same color are more attractive for reclaim than very short runs. Long runs of high value powder are the most attractive and very short runs of low value powder are the least attractive for reclaim.

Originally published in the November 2015 issue.

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