Around the world, powder coating is experiencing tremendous growth as the preferred industrial finish. Powder coating offers several significant advantages over other coating methods, helping to propel it to the forefront of coating solutions for industries ranging from automotive to agricultural, consumer goods, sporting equipment, and aerospace sectors. Within this industry-wide growth, an emerging powder coating technology has captured a sizeable portion of the market. This technology is that of energy-efficient powder coatings. In this guide, we’ll take a look at energy-efficient powder coating solutions, including its advantages and drawbacks for industrial applications.
Developed to help reduce the energy-related expenses of powder coating operations, energy-efficient powder coatings are manufactured by numerous industry players. These coatings are designed to allow for lower curing oven temperatures, reducing costs associated with oil, gas, or electric utilities. Energy-efficient coatings are ideal for substrates that cannot handle the temperatures of traditional powder coating operations, such as furniture, electrical insulators, and certain automotive components and accessories. These coating choices are also suitable for substrates and products that are heterogeneous; in other words, products that have similar or identical characteristics, such as outdoor furniture made entirely from aluminum components.
Just like in traditional powder coating, energy-efficient coatings can be found in epoxy, polyester, and hybrid epoxy-polyester resin formulations. This gives the professional powder coater the ability to match coating characteristics to specific applications, ensuring a durable finish that provides superior protection to the coated substrate.
While specific numbers are difficult to pinpoint, industrial powder coaters are turning toward energy-efficient coatings as a solution to reduce costs. The Asia-Pacific region has experienced the highest level of growth in this coating sector, particularly as demand for electronics and agricultural equipment from India and China have grown. In the United States, energy-efficient powder coatings have been carving out substantial market share in a range of industries, including agricultural equipment manufacturing operations and general manufacturing such as sporting goods and outdoor furniture. Latin American manufacturers of automotive parts and accessories, as well as furniture producers, have increasingly added these energy-efficient coatings to their operations.
In Europe, stringent environmental regulations have made energy-efficient coatings an attractive solution. Booming construction, combined with tough restrictions on the use and discharge of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), have spurred tremendous growth in the powder coating sector. The market share of European-region coating operations is expected to continue explosive growth, potentially surpassing Asia-Pacific’s use of these energy-saving coating products.
As with any emerging technology, there are both strengths and weaknesses inherent in energy-efficient powder coating products. As mentioned earlier, reduced energy expenditure have helped propel this technology to the forefront of powder coating operations. However, several drawbacks must be addressed. First, energy-efficient powders require very specific and tightly-controlled curing temperatures. If the temperature is lower than necessary, this can reduce the adhesion of the coating, ultimately leading to the need for potentially expensive stripping and recoating operations. High peak temperatures may also lead to discoloration, especially in substrates with a broader range of materials. Energy-efficient coating resins are also subject to stringent storage conditions. These resins tend to have a short shelf life, and require industrial powder coaters to store raw materials in climate-controlled conditions. If storage temperatures and times are inadequate, the raw resins degrade quickly. Finally, energy-efficient powder coatings do not have the range of colors or gloss levels as traditional powders, limiting their use somewhat. As the technology improves, coating resin manufacturers will tackle these drawbacks, allowing professional powder coaters to save money on energy costs while providing a wide range of options for end users.
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