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Powder Coating Contamination and Its Effects on Product Quality

April 16, 2019

Durable and attractive when operated as a contamination-free enterprise, powder coating workshops don't fare well when those measures fall through. If an operations manager can identify the origins of the impurity-causing transgressor, a solution will surely follow. Until then, however, there's the fallout to handle. Fortunately, instead of bemoaning the situation, proactive types tend to look at such quality-undermining issues as an opportunity to practice their detective skills.

Quality-Assurance Sleuthing

A ripple effect has sprung into life, and those ripples are spreading through the equipment stations. A contaminant is clinging to the parts. As a result of that foreign matter's presence, the finish quality has taken a significant hit. A product run, once loaded with glossy appeal, lacks any hint of surface splendour. Worse still, there's some doubt over the coating's ability to perform as a shell-like finish. To stop high process rejection rates from spiralling out of control, let's put on that detective's hat.

Troubleshooting Powder Coating Contaminants

General upkeep rules, as introduced by a shop manager, are important. Process impurities will propagate if a powder coating booth is filthy, or a curing oven is caked in waste, or a prep area is covered in dirt. Cross-contamination problems then worsen because the lines of demarcation are blurring between the different equipment stations. With process impurities on the rise, undesirable colour shifts take place, or hues simply don't appear uniformly from one end of the part to the other. Bumps appear, perhaps because free-floating fibres have entered the ducts in the coatings booth. Indeed, the damage can make itself known in different ways, depending on where the contaminant found its way into a production line.

Equipment-Specific System Impurities

Even the leftover waste on a part, as encountered back in the pre-processing room, will cause some mighty quality-spoiling effects. Outgassing moisture, while not a true contaminant, will cause surface pinholes if those gasses remain in place when the product arrives at the oven. Otherwise, powder adherence defects are also a possibility. Even the powder reclamation unit can become a troublemaker, because it gathers more and more contaminants every time it collects waste material back into its confines. Filters, which are checked then rechecked, go a long way towards correcting this particular glitch, thankfully.

It's not always easy to take on the role of process sleuth. For one thing, not every product quality problem is caused by contamination. The orange peel effect, for instance, looks unappealing, but it's normally caused by gun problems and/or poor grounding. On the other hand, a product quality troublemaker known as the "fisheye" effect occurs when oils outgas heavily. In conclusion, a troubleshooting strategy should look for system impurities. But, and this is an important point, equipment defects can mimic contamination-caused issues.

GP Industries Pty Ltd

Head Office

1 Regal Court,
Vermont South VIC 3133

Phone: (03) 9802 1355

Fax: (03) 9802 6027

Email: gp_ind@bigpond.com

Factory

Factory G,
20 Burgess Road,
Bayswater North VIC 3153

Phone: (03) 9761 7676

Fax: (03) 9761 7671

Email: gpfactory@bigpond.com

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