Powder coating is a dry metal finishing process used to improve the smoothness of a surface and protect against wear and corrosion. But you may already know that!
Powder coating is the preferred choice for enhancing a metal components' durability and visual appeal. They're a faster, more convenient, and more environment-friendly alternative to liquid paint and can effectively coat a vast range of objects, including most ferrous items, glass, and even wood.
But if you've ever wondered how thick the powder coating is and how it is measured, you're not alone.
In this article, we'll discuss the thickness of powder coating and the methods used for measuring it. But first, let's take a step back and answer another fundamental question - why the need to measure its thickness at all?
Reasons for Measuring Powder Coating Thickness
To set things straight, the powder coating thickness will vary from one component to the other. This variance isn't just due to the size of the component but also because different parts have different purposes. Some may require added resistance, while others may be needed for aesthetic allure. Depending on their end usage, the thickness of powder coating varies.
So let's understand why the thickness of powder coating must be measured:
- To Provide a Layer of Protection: The substrate's resistance against impact, chip, weathering, and other elements depends on how thick the coating is. Each component has its own product specifications that the powder applicator must meet. Thus, the layer can be adjusted by measuring thickness to meet the manufacturer's production requirements.
- For Optimum Performance:The coating functions at its peak when applied with a thickness that confirms the manufacturer's specifications. The right coating thickness will return the desired performance for a longer period of time.
- To Gain the Desired Visual Properties:The powder coating thickness also affects the physical appearance of the component. The film thickness will determine the color, gloss level, and surface profile of the coated part.
So, How Thick is Powder Coating?
At this point, it's worth noting that powder coating thickness isn't measured in inches. Instead, the standard unit of measurement for powder thickness is the mil. 1 mil is equal to 1/1000, or one-thousandth of an inch.
As mentioned, the manufacturer provides a production specification to the applicator defining the thickness required. So if the manufacturer specifies a thickness of 5 mils, the finished thickness will be 0.005".
Powder coating is the preferred finishing choice today. It provides a highly durable coating with a long-lasting paint-like finish. With a uniform layer of powder over the substrate, you'll get a superbly finished part that's highly resistant to scratches, chips, wear and corrosion. This cost-effective process also offers flexibility with a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes available at your disposal.
Generally, the powder coating thickness ranges from 1 mil to 10 mils (0.001" - 0.010") for specifications requiring thinner coating. The powder coating thickness may be as high as 40 mils for components requiring thicker coatings.
The thickness will also vary as per the environment or application of the substrate. Marine and harsh weather environments have tougher specifications for thickness.
How is Powder Coating Thickness Measured?
You can measure the thickness of the powder coating before the curing process or after. The measurement before or after curing will depend on the type of component, thickness specifications, and shape of the component.
Measurement Before Curing
Height measurements for powder coating thickness before curing are termed destructive techniques. Magnetic gauges and combs are used to measure the thickness. However, the drawback with this method is that various reduction factors must be considered to accurately predict the final thickness once the substrate is cured. This is because the thickness of the coating decreases when baked in an oven as it spreads more uniformly over the substrate.
Modern technology has allowed applicators and manufacturers to automatically measure the final thickness based on AI prediction using ultrasonic properties.
Measurement After Curing
Thickness can also be measured once the component is finally cured using non-destructive instruments. These are mostly small, hand-held devices with magnetic or ultrasonic properties to measure thickness.
Another popular method after curing is by way of eddy current. Eddy current is an electric current induced by changing magnetic fields in a conductor.
Other methods, such as the micrometer, are also used, in which two measurements are made before and after the coating. The difference reveals the thickness of the powder.
Benefits of Powder Coating
Now that we know the thickness of powder coating and how and why it is measured, here are some reasons why powder coating is the staple finishing method widely used across major industries:
Powder coating has excellent properties like adhesion and corrosion resistance that increase the component's durability, life, and performance.
Unlike the complexities involved with aqueous paint, you can also control and adjust the thickness level of powder coatings easily. Powder coating will result in a uniform coating, be it for parts with thicker coating specifications or those with thinner coating requirements.
Eco-friendly Finishing Method
Powder coating allows you to remain compliant with various environmental norms worldwide that prohibit releasing toxic solvents into the atmosphere. Being a dry finishing method, powder coating has no wastage of solvents like liquid paint.
Reduced Health Hazards
The operator also faces minimal health risks in the absence of any harmful solvents that cause skin or eye irritation.
Wide Range of Coating Options
There's a reason why powder coating is the preferred option for durability as well as for visual appeal. You're spoiled for choice with a wide array of colors, textures, and finishes to choose from.
A powder coating system is considerably cheaper than a liquid multicoat system.
Powder Coating in NJ as per your Specifications
Rusty Lion is a reliable name in metal finishing and refinishing services in NJ. We have diverse capabilities when it comes to powder coating, specializing in various metal and non-metal substrates such as aluminum, galvanized steel, glass, wood, etc.
Give your automotive, architectural, and industrial components added durability with our cost-effective powder coating services that last through the years.
Learn more about our powder coating, sandblasting, and other finishing capabilities. Contact us today.