If you want to start powder coating, you will need some new specialized equipment. While the sizes and specifications can vary significantly based on your coating needs, you will always need the following three pieces of equipment:
- A Powder Coating Gun – You can’t apply powder without some kind of gun that charges the powder. This is an essential item you must have.
- Powder Coating Booth – The booth provides a clean environment where you can spray powder – and only powder – on your parts. Booths with good filtration and airflow make it much easy to get a smooth clean finish.
- Powder Coating Oven – You must have a powder coating oven to cure your coated parts in. The oven needs to be large enough to hold your biggest part and be able to keep a constant temperature.
A powder coating gun (also called a powder spray gun) applies the electrostatic charge to the powder so the powder sticks to the part. If you want to start powder coating you have to have one. But where to start?
There are plenty of different types of powder guns on the market, but we always recommend one manufactured by one of the larger companies – Wagner, GEMA or Nordson. Each one of these companies is reputable and stands by their products. They are, also, significantly more expensive than some other options. Why recommend such an expensive option?
We haven’t talked about powder coating chemistry yet, but there are different chemicals you can add to your powder to get different effects. Just like in cooking, these are called recipes. The more expensive guns allow you to save different coating recipes (so you can switch back and forth), are easy to get replacement parts for, and generally provide a constant, smooth flow for the powder.
But again, why opt for the more expensive powder gun? If you plan on powder coating as a hobby, then one of the lower end guns will work. If you want a gun that provides a consistent flow and will work for an extended period of time, you’ll need to invest in a powder gun that can handle the workload. If you are providing coating as a service to clients or you have to deliver powder coated goods, remember: if your gun stops working you can’t powder coat.
Powder Coating Spray Booth or Spray Wall
A powder coating spray booth (also called a powder spray enclosure) is a cabin designed to spray the powder inside. Powder can get everywhere when you spray, so you need an appliance that will keep the powder contained inside the booth – and not all over the shop.
Powder spray booths have a number of configurations. A standard configuration has an open faced enclosure with the fans and filters at the rear. A crossflow or double-crossflow are tunnel-style booths that you can move a part completely through. A powder spray wall is slightly different – it is a wall of filters and fans you stand in front of when you spray the powder.
When choosing your powder coating booth, make sure it’s designed specifically for powder coating. Airflow and CFM requirements are different for wet paint, and a lot of companies don’t have specific booths just for powder. Make sure you get a booth that provides the best filtration and airflow – a clean air environment is critical to getting a smooth finish.
The size of the booth is also important. You’ll need one that can fit your biggest part and give you extra space to move around in. For example, if your biggest part you need to coat is 6′ wide, you’ll probably want an 8′ wide booth so your coating operator can walk around the part when spraying the powder.
The final piece of powder coating equipment you must have is a powder coating oven (also called a curing oven). A powder coating oven is an industrial oven that generally operates between 325 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. They range from relatively small sizes anywhere to extremely large devices. Since whatever you want to powder coat has to fit completely inside the oven, make sure you know the entire part will fit beforehand.
Choosing A Powder Coating Oven
Because the powder coating oven is often the largest and most expensive piece of equipment in a powder coating operation, make sure you know the answers to these questions before making a final decision:
How Fast Does It Get To Temperature?
An oven that takes two or three hours to get up to the necessary temperature won’t do you very much good. Faster is better.
Is the Temperature Even Throughout?
It won’t matter how fast the oven get to temperature if the heat is inconsistent. Powder needs a constant temperature throughout the curing process. If a part of the oven gets too cold or too warm, the powder won’t cure evenly ; the powder will crack or just not coat at all. And then you get to start all over.
How Thick Are The Walls?
An oven with thick walls does two things: 1) it helps insulate the cabin, which helps keep the temperature even, and 2) Helps keep the heat inside the oven and out of the shop. Powder ovens run all day, which makes thin uninsulated metal walls dangerous to touch.
How Much Does It Cost To Operate?
Most of the time, powder coating ovens use propane or natural gas. Make sure you get an efficient oven that isn’t wasting money on operating costs.
Why not electric? You can get an electric powder coating oven but it is just more expensive to operate. Electric ovens are great when the oven is small and won’t get much use – if you are coating a lot, or coating large parts (or both) natural gas or propane are the way to go.
A Question For You: What Size Powder Coating Oven Do You Need?
When you talk to a powder coating equipment expert, they’ll almost always ask “How big is your largest part?” This is because your whole part has to fit inside the oven once it’s coated – and anything from hinges to bus frames (and bigger) can be coated. The largest part you powder coat will determine what size oven you need. If you’re a job shop looking to start coating, it’s recommended to get a larger oven to begin with than to start with something small you’ll have to quickly replace.
Once you’ve answered all these questions, you should know exactly what kind of equipment you’ll need.