A quick guide to powder coating essentials in Australia
Powder coating has grown into a multi-billion dollar business, not only in Australia, but worldwide. It is a part of our lives every day, coating everything from household items and vehicles to heavy duty machinery. It even protects and beautifies countless artworks in the annual Sculptures By The Sea competition in Sydney. Its popularity comes down to two things: protection and style. As a coating method it is flexible, durable, highly protective, and its strengths are not at the cost of its looks. The range of powder coating colours and finishes is wide, which ensures your project looks and performs exactly as you need.
This article will outline the advantages, uses, and process of applying powder coatings, as well as where you will find powder coating supplies and services across Australia.
The powder coating process in 3 steps
Applying coating powder is a process where paint is applied to a substrate in dry powder form. Usually a paint is a binder and a pigment suspended in a liquid solvent, but a powder coat is solvent free, it is the binder and pigment blended into a fine powder which does not require a solvent to be fluidised. The application process can be broken into 3 steps: substrate preparation/pre-treatment, powder application, and curing. These three steps are found in the diy powder coating process as well as industrial applications.
1. Substrate preparation and pre-treatment
The appropriate preparation of the substrate is of high importance in any coating application. Firstly, remove all oil, grease, dirt, grime and ensure that the part is completely clean. Then the part is stripped to remove previous coatings. Finally, the part is sandblasted. This stage cleans the part down to bare metal and creates a texture on the substrate which allows the powder coat to adhere to it. After a final clean the part is ready. This step is slightly different depending on the substrate.
2. Powder application in two ways
The dry powder is applied through one of two methods: electrostatic spraying, and fluidised bed. The electrostatic spray process applies the powder through a specialty spray gun, the most common piece of powder coating equipment, which gives the powder an electrostatic charge. This causes the powder to stick to the grounded part.
In the fluidised bed process, the part is heated and dipped into a hopper filled with fluidised powder coating powder. The heat melts the powder onto the part immediately, though a post cure may still be needed.
3. Curing depending on the powder type
The final step is to bake the powder coat, causing it to melt, flow, and form a continuous liquid film. This ensures an even coverage over the part. Depending on the type of powder, there is either a further step for curing (for thermosetting powders), or the process stops here (for thermoplastic powders). Thermosetting powders undergo chemical crosslinking when heated in a powder coating oven, and will not melt again, where thermoplastics do not crosslink and will melt again if heated. A properly cured thermosetting powder is tough and impact resistant.
5 reasons to choose powder coating for your project
Nowadays, powder coating is suitable for a wide range of materials and purposes including metals, glass, MDF, and even wood and plastics. Powder coating has many features and advantages which make it the coating of choice. Just a few of these are:
- Cost efficiency: It is cheaper than liquid paint, and is a one coat application with low operation costs.
- Flexibility: Suitable for a wide range of materials and purposes including metals, glass, MDF, and even wood and plastics.
- Durability: It is more resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, and wearing than other finishes and provides a strong finish for example for electrical appliances.
- Appearance: Unlimited colour and finish choice (including smooth, textured, gloss, matt, iridescent, glitter, and candy) with thicker applications than liquid coatings and no running or sagging.
- Environmentally friendly: Solvent-free, very low/zero VOC, and excess powder can be recovered and reused, so minimal waste and under 1% material loss.
The wide range of powder coating colours
The choice of powder coating colours and finishes is almost limitless, if you have the time and money to have the powder produced by the powder manufacturer. The possibilities are in fact the same as for liquid paints. However, powder coatings are more colour fast and retain their gloss longer than other types of coatings. Therefore powder coatings are an ideal solution for example for coating vehicles or protecting furniture while making them attractive.
The powder coating powder usually receives its colour through colour pigments in the mixture. These are added during the production of the coating powder. Sometimes the colours are made more intense by adding metallic or ceramic powder to create a metallic or pearlescent finish. In order to easily colour match powder coating powder, Australia and most international manufacturers use the RAL colour chart.
Powder coating equipment for sale in Australia
There are numerous pieces of powder coating equipment required for a complete line. These range from sandblasting boxes or booths and curing ovens at the large scale end to hanging racks and guns at the smaller. If you wish to buy powder coating supplies, there are many suppliers operating across Australia. The cost of powder coating equipment varies by scale and quality. A complete powder coating kit including hooks, air line, gun, tapes and powder cups can cost $650. A gun system with a powder fluidising drum can cost $5,000. When applying thermosetting powders, an oven is needed. You can find either a new or used powder coating oven for sale from Australian retailers.
The cost of powder is calculated by the pound, with greater quantities charged at lower rates. The less common or more specialised a colour, the more expensive it is. An average powder might cost $25-40 per kilogram, but can be anywhere up to $100 a kilogram. If you are interested in more detailed pricing of equipment and powder coating paint supplies, take a look at our pricing article.
Whether a hobbyist or a professional business, the powder coating industry is growing. Given that powder coat is long lasting, easy to apply, durable, protective, and attractive, it is no wonder. To find out how your project can benefit from powder coatings, contact us!
Powder coating supplies and services across Australia
In answer to the question “how much does powder coating cost?”, Australia has numerous powder coating supplies companies and services, and prices from east coast to west coast may vary. The services include industrial and commercial powder coating as well as services for consumer in terms of coating smaller objects in smaller volumes. The links below will take you to our area specific lists of powder coating companies per area.
- Services & facilities in the Sydney area (NSW)
- Services & facilities in the Melbourne area (Bayswater, East & West)
- Services & facilities in the Perth area (WA)
- Services & facilities in the Brisbane area (Northside & Southside)
- Services & facilities in the Adelaide area (SA)
- Services & facilities in the Gold Coast area (QLD)
If you want more information on powder coatings, or need a contractor for a project, contact us! Our experts are here to help. Just click on the “Request a quote” button at the bottom of this article and take advantage of 100% free quoting service.