Our HotCoat® Powder-Coating Guns, like most powder coating guns, apply a negative electrostatic charge to the flour-fine powder (that magical mixture of "pigment and resin"). This charge is high voltage; up to 25,000 volts (100,000 volts on industrial guns), but fortunately very low amperage (the amps are the part of electricity that can really hurt you). Since this powder is made of resins, we know that it falls in the general classification of "plastics". As a member of the plastic family, it is a poor conductor of electricity. So once the particle is charged, it gives up that charge very reluctantly. This is what causes the powder to "cling" to the substrate being coated. The negative ions in the particle slowly fight their way to the positively charged substrate. This slow flow of ions from particle to substrate is what holds the particle on the substrate. Putting it another way, think of the positively charged substrate as "sucking" the negative ions out of the particles, causing them to stick.
Henry Ford once said, "You can have a Model-T in any color you want, so long as it's black." For an industry once focused primarily on manufacturers' needs, powder coating is transforming the automotive industry with faster production times and lower operating costs, plus irresistible value propositions for consumers. For years, conventional liquid coatings were the standard for the automotive industry. But these coatings can emit dangerous VOCs at their application stage. Powder coatings eliminate most environmental concerns and the need for costly waste disposal systems. Because powder does not run or drip, the result is a uniform, superior-quality finish.
Conversion from liquid to powder clearcoats for auto body exteriors is moving rapidly. Powder topcoats resist acid rain, the sun's ultraviolet rays, and road and weather damage, helping cars retain their "showroom look" much longer and improving their resale value. BMW and Volvo are using it on their new model cars, and GM, Ford, and Chrysler have formed a consortium to test this technique on their production lines.
Powder coating has made substantial inroads as a primer for car, van and pickup truck bodies in the United States. Auto body primers in colors will be next.
There is huge market potential for high-heat-resistant powder coatings on aftermarket mufflers, which resist corrosion, protect against nicks and prolong the life of the muffler. Some companies are already applying heat-resistant powder to aftermarket mufflers, and the new-car market is thought to be two or three years away.
Powder coating is also applied to wheels, grilles, bumpers, door handles, roof racks and exterior and interior trim. "Under the hood" uses include oil and fuel filters, brake pads, engine block casings, suspension components and radiators. Pickup truck and SUV owners can purchase powder-coated side steps, bed rails, luggage racks and toolboxes as dealership add-ons or in aftermarket stores and catalogs.
Performance car owners can find powder-coated special suspension units, carburetor parts and valve covers, plus flashy rear-view mirror mounts and other exterior adornments.
Information for this paper has been obtained from Products Finishing Magazine, Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and other sources.
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