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What is Powder Coating?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
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It looks like paint but it acts like armor, states the Powder Coating Institute (PCI) of this ubiquitous surfacing technique. Powder coating is a highly durable, decorative and long lasting finish applied to products of nearly every sort for the consumer and industry alike. It can come in virtually any color or finish, matte or smooth, is rust-free, scratch resistant and ecologically friendly.

Outdoor barbeques, swing sets, patio furniture and garden equipment are just a few examples of products that are powder coated. Though it appears painted on, it's actually a dry finishing process. Electrostatically charged particles of pulverized pigment and resin are sprayed on to the surfaces of items that have been electrically grounded, thereby attracting the dry charged particles. Items are then placed in a curing oven where the powder coating melts and fuses to the surface. Not only is the process virtually pollution free, but there is also very little waste as the dry overspray can be recovered. Also, the industry does not have to invest in costly pollution-control equipment, making powder coating extremely economical.

Resistant to chipping, and fading, colors of a powder coated item will remain true for many years. High gloss and low gloss finishes, even metallic and clear finishes, make it an ideal choice for stadium chairs, railings and structural enforcements, tools, engine parts, golf clubs, carts, ski poles, bindings, computer cases, farm equipment, exercise equipment, store racks, baby strollers and countless other products.

While powder coating started out as a finish for metal, advancements led to the ability to cure the finish at lower temperatures which opened the door to ceramics, plastics and even wood. A clear finish makes these products look new longer. Kitchen cabinets, office furniture, children's furniture, and toys have joined the ranks of products that benefit from powder coating.

If you have something you'd like powder coated it's as simple as finding a coater nearby. PCI offers a clickable map that will direct you to a list of coaters in your state. Some coaters only perform large industrial work, while others do both industrial and private or small jobs for single items, so check with the coater first.

PCI reports that powder coating is the fastest-growing finishing technology in North America, representing over 10% of all industrial finishing applications. With everything it has going for it from its versatility to being economical and environmentally friendly, that is a trend that is bound to continue.

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Discussion Comments

By anon945045 — On Apr 10, 2014

Powder coatings are (as far as I know) composed of polymer particles applied onto a substrate. Thus, it should be an insulator, both electric and thermal. I'm writing a paper on the possibilities of powder coatings at the moment, but from what I have read thus far, powder coatings are mainly used to apply a long lasting color on the surface. It protects against corrosion and abrasion, but I could imagine it not being appropriate for heavier duty purposes?

By amsden2000 — On Aug 31, 2011

@tanner182 - There is a powder coating pretreatment, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. I think it's iron zinc phosphate or something. I'm sure different companies use different things, but that's the one I found.

As for pricing, small items that are under 25 by 25 foot square can be as low as $35USD, but the big stuff like cars goes all the way up to $1,000USD and more. For a car frame, it's $700USD in my area – but it all depends on the size of the frame.

The price also changes for different types of material. Something like metallic powder coating costs more than plastic.

You'll have to check with local companies around you to get the exact prices. Good luck!

By tanner182 — On Aug 30, 2011

This sounds like amazing technology -- why are we using anything else? This saves the company money and saves me the worry about the environment being blasted with pollution. I think we should switch over to using it on everything. 10% of the industrial coatings is not enough.

If we can do anything to slow our pollution out put – we should as soon as we can. Plus, if powder coating is as durable as it says, we won't have to do it as often. Which means even less pollution.

Does anyone know the average powder coating price? Does powder coating require pretreatment? I really hope that there's a powder coating company near me.

By anon156944 — On Mar 01, 2011

Does powder coating act as insulation or is it conductive?

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