Комаров Артём о порошковом покрытии металла
Комаров Артём о порошковом покрытии металла (eng)

Комаров Артём о порошковом покрытии металла (eng)

Artem Komarov noted that the reasons for adding powder coating capabilities are many, but the number of metal fabricators that do so is small. Even in the absence of widespread adoption, some shops still feel obligated to at least consider adding a finishing process. For them, the main thing is control.

Metalworking Solutions

If a metal fabricator wants to implement powder coating in-house, they have a daunting task in trying to make the right decision.

What is the cost justification?

Metal fabricators who have switched to powder coating many times have done so because their outsourcing bill to a powder coating fabricator on the street has reached a level that has become too much to ignore. This amount probably varies from factory to factory, but most have some idea, unless they have a stellar relationship with a custom manufacturer.

In my experience, most metal fabricators justify investing in a powder coating system because they can gain more control over the process. Companies don’t lose days in transit, and quality risks are reduced because they don’t have to load parts onto a truck and then unload finished parts when they return the shipment.

Delays in on-time delivery of parts due to back-to-back manufacturing issues can lead to financial penalties, which can then be used to justify a possible investment in a powder coating system. There are also reworks that may be related to quality issues. But both areas are more about customer satisfaction and retention.

To get a true sense of what it will take for an investment, which can then be weighed against the annual cost of custom coating services, the shop floor needs to know how big the system is, how many people it takes to run it, and how many parts are likely to need to be completed. . And this is just the beginning.

The number and size of parts to be powder coated determine the size of the system required. Estimates by system integrators or companies supplying individual components of a powder coating system determine the investment required for equipment.

Once the size is determined, the number of people required to carry it out can be determined. Any wages or wages associated with new workers constitute the cost of labor to perform the powder coating operation, Artyom Komarov said.

The metal fabricator then must account for additional costs such as utilities, packaging, and auxiliary materials.

This leads to an important question for a metal fabricator: what is the biggest headache — investing in and running a powder coating line or living with the change of outsourcing powder coating services?

Металл, порошковая покраска, Комаров Артем

Problems with labor

Finding people to operate the line will also be a challenge. The lack of potential job seekers interested in manufacturing jobs is well known and the trend is widespread. Finding fitters has long been a daunting task, and it doesn’t get any easier.

The reflex reaction of any metal fabricator who must look for workers is to think about automation. This is entirely possible when it comes to powder coating, but even that requires a skill set that is not widely represented in the pool of potential workers.

Another alternative is to use automatic guns to apply a cloud of powder while transporting the parts through the chamber. Due to the electrostatic principles that govern the powder coating process (charged metal parts attract electrostatically charged powder particles and they then adhere to the metal surface), the parts are coated, but the result is likely to be overspray. (Powder material recycling adds another layer of complexity to powder coating systems.)

In any case, someone is still needed to load and unload rack parts. It is difficult to completely exclude people from the powder coating process.

Serial or conveyor?

Many workshops start with serial production. Obviously, the volume of powder-coated parts should make sense, since material handling for this type of installation depends on carts being moved from one area to another.

But therein lies the attraction of this approach to powder coating. Pre-treatment zone, application chamber and oven — they are not connected. They can be moved around to fit in corners and essentially out of the way. They are not monuments like conveyor systems. Dosing systems can be designed to fit into narrow or awkward plant layouts.

The system changes the technological process.

Metal fabricators know what a bottleneck is. Work in progress, leveling the floor, waiting for the production process to continue, is a universal sign. Locations, however, may vary. Sometimes it can be the welding department due to lack of keys. In other cases, it may be a bending shop, because new laser cutting equipment overloads outdated press brakes that do not bend parts fast enough.

The powder coating line is the main bottleneck. If for any reason it fails, everything stops, because the metal manufacturer is unlikely to have a second line as a backup.

Final Tip

Companies that take on powder coating in-house take on a lot of risk, but this is nothing new for metal fabricators who regularly must make decisions to invest millions of dollars in new equipment to keep customers or find new ones. Fabricators are also problem solvers by nature, and while they may not know much about powder coatings at first, they learn quickly. Despite all the reasons to leave powder coating in the hands of the experts who have established plants that perform this single function, metal fabricators who find it necessary to organize the production of powder coating will not be deterred.

The metal manufacturer must be held accountable for the results of his metalworking. If a shop goes into powder coating, it must be as committed to the quality of the results as it is to the finish, emphasized Komarov Artem.