Powder Processing

Manufacturers of many metal products are increasingly using powder paint as an alternative to regular paint in order to product a more durable coating for their product. This method is increasingly being used in automotive manufacturing in order to create a hard coating because it lasts for so long. Creating powder paint is also different than regular paint because it does not use binders.

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Why Use Powder Paint for Vehicles

A car is manufactured with the expectation that it will be subject to the outdoor environment for decades. The paint on car is actually three layers that is thick and durable enough to resist cracking for at least a decade. The first layer is primer, which binds to the metal surface better than paint, then there is the colored paint, and then there is a clear coat that protects the paint from the sun and rain.

It is increasingly common for auto makers and body shops to use powder paint for the primer. Since this layer must bind to the metal surface, the bond should be as strong as possible, and melting a powder onto the surface creates a stronger and harder bind than using a chemical binder. It also avoids having to handle the binder and other chemicals involved in traditional painting processes. Finally, powder is easier to clean.

The downside is having to take the car's metal surface apart and stick each piece in an oven to cure the powder paint. Since trying to insert the entire car in an oven would ruin the vehicle, it is much easier to bake metal sections before the car is even assembled. The benefits of powdered paint are calculated to outweigh the extra cost of baking and handling metal pieces.

Understanding powder processing

Making powder paint is in some ways simpler and in some ways more complicated than traditional paint. The obvious difference is the lack of a chemical binder. The oldest type of paint is made with a powder that is mixed with a natural substance that tends to dry out and harden such as linseed oil. Powder paint uses a plastic or polymer that is applied in a dry powder and then must be cured with heat.

Powder paint uses a colored base the same as regular paint. The difference is that this base must be capable of melting, so it is typically some form of polymer that holds a chemical color. It is turned into a powder by methods the same as regular paint. The polymer selected must melt at a certain temperature and produce a desired hardness upon curing. The polymer used might undergo a chemical transformation during heating and become more heat resistant after curing.

Such a hard coating is less likely to flake and so is ideal for cars. It means that cars in the future should have longer lasting paint jobs that are easier to repair. The good news is that cured powder layers can hold paint repairs and so any flaking can be touched over by an owner or auto shop.