How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 498

How is powder coating done?
Powder coating is done by combining the components of the coating (the binder—a polymer having giant chain-like molecules, the pigments, and the additives) to form a uniform solid, which is then pulverized to a dry powder and sprayed onto the surface to be coated. This coating is then baked to form a continuous film. There are two main classes of powder coatings: thermosetting and thermoplastic coatings. In a thermosetting film, crosslinking occurs between the molecules in the powder during baking. This crosslinking turns the baked film into a single giant molecule that can't melt or flow. In a thermoplastic film, thermal energy makes the binder molecules mobile enough to become entangled so that a continuous film forms and this film hardens upon cooling. While a thermoplastic film can still melt or flow, it can do that only at elevated temperatures. The powders are often given electric charges during spraying so that electrostatic forces will hold them in place until they're baked on.

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