A guide to powder coating equipment and supplies for the whole process
Having the best tools for the job is an important part of providing top quality service and powder coating application. The best tools for the job in powder coating include equipment for the pre-treament, application, and curing stages of a job. With the right commercial or industrial powder coating equipment and supplies for each of these stages, any powder coating business can thrive. In this article we look at the different types of powder coating equipment needed for a powder coating business, or even just a home shop, to make sure every application performs at its best. We also list the suppliers and manufacturers of powder coating equipment in the UK.
Choose the most suitable powder coating equipment for your product
To answer the question “what powder coating equipment is right for me?”, you need to think about the business you are hoping to run. To begin with, you should ask yourself the following questions.
- How often do you need powder coating? If it merely is for occasional projects, it might be wiser to use an existing powder coating plant.
- What do you powder coat? The size of the product has an effect on the size of the equipment.
- What level of automation is required? Manual and automatic equipment is available.
- How much space you have at your premises? A powder coating line requires a lot of space, however, if you don’t have it, you can still get your plant as you’ll find out later on.
Choosing the right equipment might even save you money as powder coatings allow faster production and reduced curing time. There are however, also differences in the equipment; one uses gas, other one electricity, one’s consumption is higher etc.
Two types of commercial and industrial powder coating lines
Basically, there are two types of powder coating lines: batch and automated. A batch coating system is a powder coating line where operators prepare, coat, and cure multiple parts in batches. They are usually hung on rolling racks, which are moved from station to station. An automated powder coating line uses the same equipment but instead of rolling racks, the stations are connected through a conveyor. The parts are loaded on and moved through the line at a constant rate.
If you become an approved applicator for a powder manufacturer, you are able to give out powder coating warranties on the work you provide. For this to happen, your coating application and the powder coating equipment you use need to be of the highest quality, and right for the job.
Powder coating supplies for pretreatment – preparation is the key to success
Pretreatment is one of the most crucial parts of any coating application. To achieve the best results, the substrate needs to be correctly prepared and cleaned before any coating is applied. Rust, old paint, oil, grease, debris, or the residue of the cleaning chemicals themselves can all lead to issues with the coating’s adhesion, appearance, and durability. Powder coating pretreatment equipment is used to prepare the substrate to the required standard. Powder coating supplies for pretreatment includes:
- Chemical wash station – Oil, grease, chemicals, or solvents needs to be removed from the surface before any other step, even if you are sandblasting. If there is still grease present, sandblasting can force it to penetrate the metal, causing bigger problems down the line. Chemicals or detergents are used at a wash station, and these can be manual or automated. An automated wash station takes the part through cleaning, rinsing and prep via a conveyor.
- Sandblasting gun and blast room – One of the most commonly used pieces of pretreatment equipment is the sandblasting gun. Abrasive media like grit, soda, or steel shot (not sand) is propelled at the substrate using compressed air. The material blasts and abrades the debris, rust, or old paint from the surface, while also creating a slightly roughened surface texture to promote adhesion.
- Dry-off oven – Similar to a curing oven, a dry-off oven evaporates any remaining cleaning chemicals from the surface.
The equipment dedicated to pretreatment prior to powder painting can be purchased separately or you can buy an automatic pretreatment powder coating machine that does the job in 30 minutes! This particular machine deposits a phosphate conversion coating on the substrates. The system certainly add on to the investment but, it also saves you time in preparing the substrate; and as we know, time is money. The price for a powder coating pretreatment machine lies between £15,000 and £25,000. The price is subject to variation depending on the brand, size and functions of the machine.
Application equipment – Powder coating gun and spray booth
Choosing the right application method for the job is important to make sure your processes go smoothly, and for quality assured application. There is different powder coating equipment for different powders and purposes. The powder coating gun is the simplest, where powder is fed through the system from a fluidised hopper. Compressed air shoots it at the substrate. The main four application methods are:
- Electrostatic spray (Corona) gun – This gun uses compressed air and high voltage electrodes to apply a charge to the powder as it exits the gun. The powder is then attracted to the grounded part.
- Tribomatic spray gun – Tribo guns use friction to create a charge in the powder. Like the electrostatic spray gun, the powder is forced through the gun by compressed air, but in the tribo gun this gives the powder a charge which is what attracts it to the grounded part.
- Fluidised bed – Powder is placed in a hopper or bed and ‘fluidised’; air is run through it so it acts like a fluid. The part to be coated in preheated and dropped into the fluidised powder where the heat causes it to immediately melt and flow.
- Electrostatic fluidised bed – An electric field is created in the fluidised powder, causing it to cloud above the bed. The part is brought through this cloud, rather than being dunked in the bed itself.
When you powder coat, you need an area in which to do it. Collecting overspray and ensuring a contaminant-free environment is a far simpler process with a powder coating spray booth. The right spray booth for your business will depend on what you are coating, the floor space of your facility, and your own working preferences. A powder spray booth is equipped with exhaust fans that collect powder from the air while maintaining visibility for the operator. They keep contaminants from the other processes happening in the shop from reaching the application, and a reclamation system allows the overspray to easily be recycled. The price of a powder coating spray booth lies somewhere between £3,500 and £8,000 depending on the size and additional options.
Note that the powder coating booth regulations have been updated in the UK: for insurance purposes the booths must comply with the new Health and Safety regulations meaning that the suction must equal to 0.7 cu m per second, per 1 sq m of the spray booth face.
Powder coating equipment for curing the finish
The right powder coating oven for the job depends on the part size, shape, thickness, composition, powder type, and operating cost. Time and temperature are the critical considerations for powder coating curing, but they are not set in stone. A longer period at a lower temperature may work just as well as a shorter period at a higher temperature. The curing temperature of the powder refers not to the air or emitter temperature but the temperature of the substrate. Temperature needs to be rigorously maintained and controlled. There are essentially two types of oven:
- Convection powder coating oven
The convection oven is the more popular curing oven choice. Gas or oil-fired heaters are used to heat air which is then circulated through the oven space. These ovens can be direct or indirectly fired; in indirectly fired ovens the hot air from combustion travels through a heat exchanger to remove the combustion products and provide clean air. Small electric ovens are available from £3,500 and gas powdered industrial powder coating ovens start from £6,000
- Infrared powder coating oven
Infrared heat energy is emitted by a hot body and hits the part. The part absorbs this heat and so cures the coating. This method provides more rapid heating of the part, but is best used for simple pieces or relatively flat surfaces. For infrared ovens colour is an important factor – light colours reflect more radiation than dark colours, and will take longer to heat.
Portable powder coating equipment for small spaces
Powder coating plant requires quite some space, given that the smallest industrial oven has an area of 5 sq m and the smallest booth covers 3 sq m.
If you do not have the space in your premises, you can also purchase the complete plant in containers and place them outside. You can get a containerised powder coating plant including oven and spray booth for about £20.000.
Where to buy powder coating equipment and supplies in the UK
The following companies supply powder coating equipment as stated in the table. These most of this equipment is manufactured in the UK, however, some equipment comes from overseas. For breakdown of the cost of powder coating in the UK, as well as the costs of equipment, visit our powder coating costs page.
|POWDER COATING EQUIPMENT COMPANY||PRETREATMENT||APPLICATION||CURING||ADDRESS|
|Nordson Corporation||Yes||Yes||No||Faraday Road, Aylesbury, HP19 8RY|
|UK Powder Coating||Yes||Yes||Yes||Dinting Vale Business Park, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 6LG|
|Junair Spraybooths||No||Yes||No||Cross Street, Heywood, Lancashire OL10 1PW|
|Blast-Wash||No||Yes||Yes||Baron Ave, Earls Barton, Northampton NN6 0JE|
|RDM Industrial Services||Yes||Yes||Yes||Stakehill Lane, Middleton, Manchester M24 2RW|
If you are interested in second hand powder coating equipment, you might keep an eye on Riley Surface World, which along with brand new powder coating equipment has used powder coating equipment for sale.