What is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is a popular finish for many items: it is durable, decorative, and one of the cheapest options for finishing metal and many other materials. Tougher than painting, it can protect machinery from corrosion and your lawn furniture from a blizzard. It’s used in the automotive, industrial, marine, and residential industries. It is one of the most eco-friendly finishing options.
Powder coating is a dry finishing process that uses a mix of pigment and resin; these are sprayed electrostatically onto the surface of a part, which is then heated to bake in a smooth finish in a curing oven. It creates an impenetrable outer layer, which prevents water and other contaminants from degrading the material underneath.
What is Powder Coating good for?
Powder coating is probably the most popular finishing option–mostly because it’s one of the cheapest. It is used in plant machinery, foundry castings, instrumentation and electrical components. It finishes your Harvester, backhoe, and building crane. It’s used to coat aluminum fencing, awnings, and your Cuisinart stand mixer. Typical lifetimes can be 20+ years.
- More cost effective than anodizing
- Available in wide array of colors
- Lots of finishing options (gloss, flat, etc.)
- One of the most eco-friendly metal coating materials available (no solvents, releases negligible amounts of VOCs)
Not so good things
- Only works on electrically conductive materials–so no cloth, no leather, and no to most plastics.
- Relatively thick coating
- Tendency to break down if exposed to UV rays
- It is difficult to touch up
- Only works on heat-resistant materials; the high temperatures required to cure powder coats rule out most polymers, composites, and MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
What types of Powder Coating are there?
There are epoxies, polyesters, super-durable polyesters, fluoropolymers, etc. Polyesters are the most commonly used types. There are so many for the different applications: outdoor, ruggedized, pre-coat, etc.
Many different companies provide powder coating powder. They do not match. Just as Sherwin-Williams Ultra White is slightly different from Standard Brands’ Ultra White, each manufacturer has proprietary formulas for their colors.
What Materials can be Powder Coated?
Powder coatings are primarily used for metal: steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. Powder coated items must be able to endure 450ºF and be able to conduct electricity.
You can also coat glass or fiberboard, but these materials have to be pre-treated or coated differently (via a fluidized bed powder coating application, for example) to make them conductive.
HeyScottie can powder coat items up to 6 ft. x 6 ft. x 12 ft. This size of the curing oven is the limiting factor here.
What can’t be Powder Coating Tips?
With HeyScottie, only send in metal parts to be powder coated. Assemblies which contain non-metal parts such as plastic, glass or organic substances (e.g., rubber gaskets), will not be powder coated. They can be affected by the pretreatment or not behave well in the curing ovens.
Clean parts only!
Make sure your parts are clean! Surface oils may or may not come off in the first anodizing stage. Having greasy or oily parts interferes with the powder’s adhesion. Dirty parts make it difficult to apply masking for screw holes and such.
Fresh parts only!
Don’t send in parts that have been previously powder coated, the old coating needs to be blasted off. If you have those needs, contact HeyScottie – we can discuss options.
No sharp corners or small radii!
Coatings may develop voids at sharp corners and edges. All edges and inside corners should be radiused prior to anodizing. Avoid sharp edges or chamfers; these can lead to cracking.
No tight fits!
Parts with very tight tolerances for a good mating with other parts need a trial coating or the whole batch might not come together. Areas of parts that need a close contact with other parts can be left uncoated to achieve a precise fit by masking the mating surface, but custom masking needs a more detailed drawing. Call HeyScottie to discuss!
Each piece must be disassembled. Any item that contains rubber, plastic or wiring requires disassembly before coating. If any non-metal components remain, they will probably melt during the heat curing process, creating an enormous mess.
Cost Drivers for Powder Coating
All prices include abrasive blasting, masking of all threads, preparation, and powder coating using a one coat color. For a second coat, add 50%. Clear coat is required over all metallic and silver coatings.
Powder Coating Powder
There are different providers of Powder Coatings, some top-of-the-line, some bargain basement quality. Top ones include Cardinal, Tiger Drylac, Axalta, IFS, APC, Akzo Nobel, Columbia Coatings and Sherwin Williams. One pound of powder can cost (retail) anywhere between $10/lb. to $40/lb. for the same off-white depending on the manufacturer.
Matte or gloss black will be cheaper than Starlight Black.
Type of Powder and Finish
Glossy finishes and special powders (like metallics, textured powders or luminescents) are more expensive because their powders are more expensive and finicky in application. Light colors likely require a thicker coating or more coatings.
There is an additional charge for colors such as clear coats and translucent/anodized/candy colors due to being a 2-step coating process. Please contact HeyScottie for a custom quote if you are interested in using these types for your powder coating project.
After the type of powder, then next more important cost driver is the size of the part needing anodizing. Surface area determines the total amount of material that gets deposited on the part itself. Sometimes the weight is a factor if the part is too heavy to move. For sheet metal or larger jobs, powder coaters will quote a price based on the square footage of the surface area. For jobs like fences and railings the price will be by the linear foot.
If your parts are old or used, they will need to be pre-treated so the coating will adhere correctly. This is a manual process and adds cost. Pre-treatments include:
- Burn-off to remove old finishes
- Chemical cleaning for degreasing
- Sandblasting for removing old coats of paint or powder coats. This also creates a textured surface which makes it easier for the powder coat to bind to the metal.
Masking and plugging
Powder coating changes the original dimensions of a part. If your parts have precisely drilled holes, you do not want to alter with their dimensions. Powder coaters do hole-masking: plugging screw holes with consumable caps or plugs. It is a time and labor consuming process.
Figure 1: Anodizing caps and plugs – lots of options.
Racking is the way that parts to be anodized are positioned on a fixture to be sprayed and then cured. The racks need to be securely held by the equipment that is firing particles at them. All powder coating companies have tons of different racks for myriad configurations of parts.
But the cost comes in because each part must be secured to the rack manually. This is a manual, time-consuming, skills-based process. If your parts have hang holes, this will ease the racking. If your parts are large and unwieldy, it will take a lot more time to rack them.
How to Request a Powder Coating Quote
HeyScottie needs the following information to process Powder Coating Quote Request.
We need your contact information. Please double check that this is correct. This will be our primary means of communication. We do not need your phone number, but it will make communication easier if you share. It will only be used as a last resort for time-sensitive requests.
We need the following information about your part:
HeyScottie’s automatic pricing engine can give you an instant quote for powder coating your part using our standard colors:
- Black (RAL 9003)
- White (RAL 9010)
- Grey (RAL 7022)
- Blue (RAL 5002)
- Red (RAL 3002)
If you need a custom color, please enter “custom” and add your Manufacturer and Manufacturer’s Part number in the next field. We use Prismatic Powder’s material or equivalent.
We offer matte, satin, and gloss finishes.
We price our services by the number of holes needing masking. We define a hole as being less than or equal to 1” deep and 0.062” diameter. Anything larger requires a manual quote, please use the contact us for your request.
We will need your CAD file. HeyScottie values your privacy and data security! As always, you own your data, and HeyScottie only uses it to view, estimate and process buyer-specific projects. Buyer data is not shared outside of HeyScottie’s services. The servers and network where data is stored are isolated by a firewall and only one person has access to it. HeyScottie conducts regular security scans to look for vulnerabilities. Data is encrypted on the server and in transit.
Projects that are fulfilled by HeyScottie’s Manufacturing Partner’s are given unique internal ID’s, which anonymize the buyer. Manufacturing Partners are held under HeyScottie’s NDA agreement, and conform to HeyScottie’s non-disclosure and service agreements.
When you submit, you will next be taken to a form to confirm your order: part, quantity, service, your contact details, and your shipping address. If that looks good, you will be asked to confirm your free shipping. Once confirmed, you will be asked to enter your billing information. You will also have the opportunity to confirm the order one last time before submitting.)
How much does Powder Coating cost?
All prices include abrasive blasting, masking of all threads, preparation, and powder coating using a one coat color. All prices include masking all threads, stripping, cleaning, degreasing, iron phosphate and coating parts.
It’s a batch process business, with significant setup work (racking, masking). Minimum charges range from $150 to $325. Price per piece ranges from $0.01 for screws and washers, to $2000+ for a car frame.
HeyScottie has a network of over 75 powder coating partners around the country to help with powder coating. We’ve made it easy to get a quick quote and get your parts powder coated right and on time. Request a quote today and see how easy it is to do business with HeyScottie.