Billions, Bikes and Bucky Badger

New reports on metal finishing, a retro-reflective bike and a new truck for UW


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This month I’ll catch you up on some industry tidbits, look back at a unique powder coating technique making national headlines and showcase some Wisconsin finishers who stepped in for a great cause.
A new report says that global metal finishing chemical market sales will top $8 billion by 2015. Europe and the United States represent the largest markets for metal finishing chemicals worldwide, according to the new market research report, “Metal Finishing Chemicals: A Global Strategic Business Report,” being sold by Global Industry Analysts Inc. However, growth is expected to emanate from the Asia-Pacific market, which is forecasted to register a CAGR of more than 3 percent during the analysis period. Plating chemicals constitute the leading market segment. Galvanization and electroless plating technologies are expected to displace other processes, such as chromium and cadmium electroplating. Cleaning chemicals, including aqueous cleaners and oxygenated solvents, are set to substitute chlorinated solvents, according to the report, which can be viewed at the “Latest News” blog on pfonline.com.
You may recall our story in October 2010 about Halo Coatings of Akron, Ohio, (“Shining Example of Powder Coating Safety “) and its retro-reflective powder coating that allows illuminated objects such as guardrails and road signs to be seen at night from as far as 1,000 feet away.
An update: Halo Coatings partnered with Rob Tsunehiro of Tsunehiro Cycles and Silas Beebe of ID+ to build a bicycle that won a major award at Oregon Manifest, a show for new-bicycle engineering and innovative ideas. Tsunehiro, a former Boeing engineer and custom bike builder, and Beebe, an industrial designer with 10 years of global experience, won for their "Louis Vuitton of city bikes,” which featured the retro-reflective powder coating. The bike included a hub generator-charged battery pack with USB port for juicing cell phones and bicycle lights. It was also equipped with a built-in lock, leather straps for holding groceries and a front rack made out of recycled wood.
The powder coated feature even attracted the attention of the Wall Street Journal, which hailed it as a “prototype you might see down the road.”
Halo Coatings recently signed a partnership with Velocity USA to manufacturer bicycle rims with the retro-reflective powder coating on them.
While on the subject of powder coatings, hats off to Eau Claire, Wis.-based powder-coating specialist Envirotech and Appleton, Wis.-based Pierce Manufacturing for stepping in to help the University of Wisconsin “Spirit Squad”—actually a 1932 LaFrance fire engine that has seen decades of rust, bent running boards and unreliable cable brakes and steering. Everyone held their breath every time it was used before a Badger football game to deliver Bucky Badger, cheerleaders and other dignitaries to the UW football stadium.
The vehicles’ cracked transmission and rare replacement parts threatened to banish the wagon to the scrap heap, but thanks to both the hard work of UW–Madison College of Engineering faculty, students and a multitude of generous corporate donors such as Envirotech, the wagon was rebuilt and refinished in time to make its debut at the UW-Madison Homecoming celebration in October.
Pierce Manufacturing—which happens to make some nifty fire trucks—saw that much of the bodywork was unsalvageable, so the comapany refabricated about half of the Bucky Wagon body.
“People drilled a lot of holes to mount various things over the years, and nobody fixed any of them,” says Glenn Bower, a UW-Madison mechanical engineering faculty associate. “It started to look like Swiss cheese.”
After powder coating of the frame by Envirotech and a fantastic Badger-red paint job by Pierce, the vehicle was running down the road like new again.