Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Powder Coating equipment for beginners.

You're going to hear me talk about a few companies on this site that have been extremely good to me as I was starting out. First and fore-most, Eastwood Company is the entire reason I got into this after stumbling across their very cheap powder-coating gun, and I've used many of their powders with great success. Another company I have been extremely happy with in regards to supply is Columbia Coatings, who lately have been my #1 powder supplier due to a vast selection of colors and great customer service.

First and fore-most, you're most important piece in powder coating is the gun itself. Me personally, I started out with Chicago Electric's powder coating system available from Harbor Freight. This unit worked well for me over about 2 months before I started having some issues, and browsing a few other powder coating communities and forums I was turned onto Eastwood's hot-coat system, and have never looked back. Both of these guns can be had for under $100 + shipping, and both will be perfect for the beginners hobby setup. The Eastwood gun hasn't been perfect, in the past 3 years I've replaced it twice, but both times were absolutely hassle free and timely thanks to Eastwood's amazing customer service.

You will also need a compressed air source to run the gun. These guns spray at an amazingly low pressure, so a large compressor isn't required. Generally 5-10psi is ideal for powder coating, though a few times I have had to turn that up a bit and blast a part for extra coverage. If you already have a large compressor in your garage for air tools, that will work fine. In my personal setup, I installed another regulator at my gun itself, so that I could use a blow-gun to clean off my work and area before hand, and then only get 7psi through the gun w/o having to go back to the compressor.

Curing the piece simply needs some heat. Eastwood also offers a very nice, portable propane heat lamp type thing-a-majig, but this should only be used for pieces you couldn't fit in your oven. Using an open source heat to cure your pieces is not ideal, as #1, it doesn't cure the entire piece at once, so you have to constantly move the heat along it, which for the beginner will prove to be some costly mistakes, and #2, the piece becomes far more likely to get contaminants in the powder, which will leave blemishes in the finish. These 2 factors are extremely important in regards to powder coating. This stuff is not easy to get off by any means, all that durability and toughness I already mentioned before is true. Sand-blasting, sanding, it all takes a lot more work to strip powder coating, so bad in fact some companies have developed chemicals just for removing it.

As for curing, a simple old house-hold oven will work wonders. I use a 30" oven I picked up off of e-bay for about 30 bucks. Currently I'm going to finish building a much larger custom oven I have made to do motorcycle frames and the such. It is very important to use a dedicated oven for this, as the chemicals released during burn-off on certain pieces that may have oil contamination have been known by the state of California to produce cancer... like everything else they've tested. Seriously though, do not share an oven between powder-coating and food. It's no bueno, I'm positive you'll get terribly sick, and after all it's just pretty disgusting that 2 days ago you had a 10 year old valve cover in there baking and today it's a chocolate cake... c'mon now.

That's it. Seriously, that's all you need to actually apply the powder coat and cure it. It's not all there is to the equation though, nor is it all the equipment you need to do a top-notch professional quality job. The majority of the work is in the preparation of the piece, which is covered on a different page.

7 comments:

Petrosky C said...

Very useful information! Thank you for write this blog.

J said...

thanks for the praise and being the first comment I've ever received ;)

Anonymous said...

Your site is just what the doctor ordered for me as a novice to powder coating.
I restore old (very old) bicycles.
Can you elaborate as to what is the best way to use heat lamps and what is the best one to use. Specifically for bike frames.
Thanks. Your work is appreciated

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the anonymous tag. I don't know how to get my name to come up.
Any ideas?
Thanks.
Normandy

Anonymous said...

Hey I was wondering, what do you do to prep the parts being coated. Do you sandblast them sand them wire brush or what. Also do you have to prime the parts prior to finish coat. cmsbonetown@hotmail.com

al.an01 said...

Yes good information I'm looking to do some powder coating on steel components. I want to build an oven
say 6'x4'x4'. Is there any DIY plans around you know of. I'm looking at eastwoods products but the heating lamps I can source where I live. All info much appreciated.
Thanks
Alan

www.navarra-3d.com said...

For my part every person ought to go through it.