Powder coating special effects make your finish pop
Powder coating is known for its durable finish and almost limitless colour choices. Standard powder coatings come in solid colours; manufacturers have their own selection of stock colours and most of them offer the complete RAL colour range. But if you are looking for something a bit special, custom colours and powder coating special effects are possible. If you have a special finish in mind, chances are there is a powder coating special finish that will give you the look you are hoping for.
From hammertone and metallic powder coating to translucent and candy colours, in this article we take a look at some of the limitless possibilities of powder coating special effects.
How powder coating special effects are made
Powder coating special effects can be created through a number of techniques such as combining different powders, modifying powders with texture changing additives, or adding metal flakes. The methods of creating special effects can be divided into two types: one-step and multi-step applications.
Powder coating effects with one step application
Powder coating special effects can be created by modifying the powder before applying it to the substrate. These powders are often used in ‘one-step applied’ special effect powder coatings. The finishes need to be applied and cured carefully according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and an eye-catching powder coating finish is ready. The most common types of special effects that result from one step applications are:
- TEXTURES – The most common powder coating textures include sand, wrinkle, and river. Of the three, sand has the roughest texture, the river texture offers the smoothest finish, and wrinkle falls between the two.
Uses: Interior and exterior (when specified) architectural applications, electronics enclosures and consumer goods.
- VEINING – Veining is a textured finish close to river texture, however, this one results in a more dramatic, broader veined finish which can be applied in one or two colour tones. The coating thickness may vary across the substrate due to the texture, which may compromise the salt spray resistance.
Uses: Electronics enclosure and predominantly interior architectural applications unless the powder clearly states that it is also suitable for exteriors.
- HAMMERTONE – The hammertone is a structured finish that gets its name because it looks like a surface that has been hit by a hammer; it is similar to the veining and river textures but has narrower ‘veins’ and a glossier look. The effect is created through modifying the powder by adding glossy mica pigments.
Uses: Consumer goods, electrical cabinets, outdoor furniture, lightning products and wire goods.
- METALLIC – Metallic (aka glimmer) powder coatings are made by mixing metal powder or flakes into the powder paint. Metallic powders come in two qualities, bonded and unbonded, and it is the bonded metallics that are suitable for one step application as they contain a bit of clear powder. The unbonded metallics need to be finalised by a transparent or translucent powder.
Uses: Bonded metal flake powder coating is suitable for interior applications only, but unbonded metallics are suitable for exteriors depending on the top coat. Common in architectural applications and as vehicle refinishes or rims.
- HOLOGRAPHIC – A holographic powder coating works much like the metallics; the effect is created by adding a special ‘rainbow’ pigment and clear powder for interior coatings, with an additional top coat for exterior coatings. This top coat can be clear or translucent for added colour.
Uses: Consumer goods, vehicle refinishes, electronics enclosures and custom projects.
Multi step application – for the most spectacular powder coating special effects
The ‘multi-step applied’ powder coating special effects create extraordinary finishes through the application of different layers of coating. The effects achieved include colour combinations and special gloss and functional effects, which make any metal substrate look incredible. Below we introduce those powder coating special effects that result from a multi step application involving two or more coats.
- CANDIES – The candy colours provide finishes with extremely deep, bright and dramatic colours. Candy colours are usually applied in three steps: metallic primer as the background, translucent coloured base coat to provide the colour, and a transparent high gloss top coat for the depth.
Uses: As a vehicle refinish, for consumer goods, architectural applications, electronics enclosures
- TWO-TONE – The two-tone finishes (also known as cut colour or bi-tone) are created by applying multiple colours of powder coating one on top of the other. Each colour is cured before applying the next one. The application process is rather complex because the use of multiple colours requires high heat masking and in-between curing. It is possible to create a fade effect between colours.
Uses: Custom projects
- TRANSLUCENT – Translucent powder coating provides colour while being transparent enough to leave the underlying powder coat visible. These powders create powder coating special effects by enhancing the base coat and its depth. A translucent powder is a crucial component in many multi step applications.
Uses: Architectural, consumer, electronics and many more
- DORMANTS – Dormant finishes are an example of the coatings brought to life with translucent powder coatings. The term dormant refers to a coating whose true beauty is shown only when combined with another coating. Dormants are used to create the most fascinating powder coating special effects.
Uses: Consumer goods, electronics enclosures, vehicle refinishes etc.
- FLUORESCENT – A fluorescent finish gives a surface an almost glowing effect – fluorescent powder coatings result in an extremely bright coloured finish. These powder coating special effects are created by combining three layers of coating starting with a white base coat which contributes to the glow effect.
Uses: Custom projects, such as powder coating rims, warning sign, personal protective equipment, retail displays, architectural applications
Compare powder coating special effects and choose the best
The flexibility and versatility of powder coating colours and powder makes it possible to create a dazzling range of special effects. With so many options, the agony of choice sets in – how to choose the right finish, and what if it does not look the same in real life and different lighting conditions? Therefore, we always recommend ordering powder coating samples – they offer you the opportunity to inspect the colour from every angle, in every light. If you have already chosen your special effect powder, it is time to find the right manufacturers and buy the special effects powder.