Sustainable Powder Coating Improves Your Bottom Line While Helping the Planet

Feb 19, 2019

Did you know that sustainable powder coating can both benefit your business financially and contribute to reducing waste. Because TLC Metal Restoration has been in the business of metal refinishing and powder coating services for over ten years, we have strong opinions about how to best serve our commercial, residential, retail, and institutional clients. We are experts in the fields of metal polishing, laser stripping, sandblasting, and metal plating. The craftsmen who work here at TLC have a combined 75 years of experience.

Sustainable Powder Coating Architectural Steel Truss

Did you know all the environmentally friendly aspects of powder coating? In North America’s 1960s, the dry finishing process called powder coating came into being. Over the years since, the process has become incredibly popular and now represents 15 percent of the entire industrial finishing market. According to the Powder Coating Institute, the benefits of using powder coating include:

  • High-quality finishing
  • Durable finishes
  • Limitless color choices and textures
  • Protective finishes
  • Decorative finishes
  • Excellent performance
  • Attractive finishes

Now, more than ever, companies are specifically asking for powder finishes because of its many positive characteristics.

A Chemistry Lesson

The base of the powder coating process is polymer resin systems. To this is added pigments, leveling agents, curing additives, flow modifiers, and other ingredients. When these substances are combined, melted, and cooled, they are then ground into a powder of the same consistency as baking flour.

When the Electrostatic Spray Disposition (ESD) process completes, the powder coating is sprayed to a metal substrate through the use of a spray gun. An electrostatic charge in the particles of the powder attracts them to the grounded part. After curing, heat application helps the coat chemically react and produces long, molecular chains, which make for high cross-link density and resistance to breakdown.

Even plastics and medium-density fiberboard can be powder-coated in this way. Powder coating can withstand and is resistant to:

  • Moisture
  • Abrasions
  • Scratches
  • Ultraviolet light
  • Impact
  • Chemicals
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Chipping
  • Corrosion
  • Fading
  • Wear, and more

The Environmental Impact of Powder Coating

Powder coating is one of the metal products processes that respect the environment. Now that there is a high level of demand for environmental sensitivity around the world, it is nice to know that powder coating does not harm our eco-systems. Some reasons for this being correct include:

The heated air used in the powder coating process can be recirculated back into the plant’s booth environment, so none of the heated air is exhausted into the exterior of the building. Many powder coating companies have seen lowered heating and cooling costs because of this recirculation.

The overspray created from the spraying of the powder paint can be reclaimed and reused during the process. The result is no lost material; monetary savings, and, of course, environment protection.

With solvent-based paints, harmful air pollutants can escape into the air, but powder coatings have minuscule levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and no dangerous air pollutants.

Disposing of leftover powder coating is easy because it is poured back into the hopper. This extra added attraction is recyclability to the maximum.

Go Green Levels of Other Types of Coatings

There are other ways to coat products other than powder coating, but are they friendly to the environment?

Wet Paint – There is a fundamental chemical composition difference between powder coating and wet paint. Liquid paint is hazardous because it is flammable.

  • Liquid paints give off VOCs and create long-term exposure to these compounds, mainly when they are used in small spaces, and can cause respiratory irritation and other health problems, as well. VOCs are one of the leading offenders in industrial pollution, too. As we have seen, this is not true for powder coatings.
  • Wet paint’s fire hazards mean that using it as a finish requires more investment in insurance premiums and particular handling issues.
  • Disposing of paint is more expensive since it must be thrown away according to tight environmental controls.
  • Liquid paint has been found to contain chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.

Plating – This is a process that deposits metal on a conductive surface and is much like gold-plating.

  • Electroplating uses cyanide- and acid-based solutions, plating bath filters, and resins, all of which can cause injury or harm to the environment if disposed of improperly.
    Some materials used in this process are ignitable, corrosive, reactive (causing possible explosions), or toxic.
  • Nickel exposure, along with some other metals, may prove hazardous both to the environment and individuals’ health. Inhaled airborne particles can remain in a person’s lungs for years. Nickel can also cause an allergic reaction called nickel dermatitis.
  • There is the potential danger of workplace emissions of nickel-containing gases, liquids to sewers and drains, and solids taken to landfills or recyclers.
  • Chromium, used in metal plating, contains chromate, a known carcinogen.
  • Lead used in plating, if absorbed through the skin, can damage the brain, kidneys, and muscles.
  • Cadmium can lead to cancer or failure of the lungs and kidneys.

Electroplating – Hazardous substances included in the electroplating process (preparation, coating, polishing metal items) may consist of:

  • Methylene chloride, phenol, and cresylic acid (much like phenol)
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Heavy metals like nickel, dichromates, chromates, chromium, lead, and cadmium
  • Hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, chromic acid, and dichromic acid
  • Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)
  • Sodium and potassium cyanide, and other toxic wastes

Dangers, when exposed to electroplating, may take the form of:

  • Container spills
  • Explosive gas
  • Chemical burns
  • Toxic fumes
  • Secondary dust from buffing or grinding
  • Failed ventilation exhausts
  • Removal of sludge from dip tanks
  • Careless housekeeping
  • Poor disposal processes, and more

Passivation – This process strips the surface layer of stainless steel off, to remove imperfections or, as in the spacecraft business, removes any contaminants left over from the machining process. Generally, the process is done using nitric oxide. Nitric acid requires special handling and produces nitrogen oxides which are greenhouse gases and are potentially hazardous to workers.

Sustainable Powder Coating

TLC Metal Restoration takes eco-friendly processes quite seriously. Allow us to share a few of the ways we are doing our part in saving our eco-system. One of the most helpful pieces of equipment we have acquired lately is the only commercial cleanLASER CL-1000 in the Northeast. The cleanLASER allows us to remove paint and corrosion from a variety of surfaces in a clean and fast manner. This combined laser paint stripper and laser surface cleaner are cutting edge. It can strip down to the bare surface and does not scratch the material or miss any tiny detail. The surface of the object that appears after the laser treatment is clean, free of residue, and ready for any resurfacing process.

But, most importantly, the laser cleaner offers:

  • Safe removal of hazardous contaminants and coatings
  • Oxide-free metal surfaces
  • Elimination of the need to grind, sand, or grit blast
  • Complete protection of sensitive or historical surfaces
  • Exclusion of abrasives, water, solvents, chemicals, noise, and dust
  • Removal of contaminants
  • Reduction of hazardous conditions for workers
  • Expansion of sustainability for artifacts
  • Long-term durability

In these days of the collective disposable mindset, throwing away perfectly good items has become commonplace. If it is rusty, has layers of paint, is too ugly, then it is tossed. TLC Metal Restoration enjoys having a part in discovering solutions for our clients. In New York, TLC contributes to making old objects look new again. And powder coating preserves items, old or new, for more extended periods than merely paint.

“Considering the environment” can also mean making the world more beautiful, and that is something our company does. Our wide variety of colors in gloss or semi-gloss, matt or textured, can turn an item, space, or building into an entirely new entity. Our company’s name sends that message loud and clear – TLC Metal Restoration. We are in the business of restoring:

  • Buildings
  • Automobiles
  • Stores
  • Products
  • Vintage delights
  • Bicycles
  • Motorcycles
  • Manufacturing applications
  • Furniture
  • Outdoor furniture
  • DIY-ers projects
  • Decorative objects
  • Metal art structures, and so much more

By doing our part of working toward a sustainable and debris-free planet, we’ll also be providing others with inspiration and an excellent example to follow. As individuals, we have the potential to make a big difference, and together we can change the world. – Amanda Laverty, Knauss Fellow at NOAA’s Marine Debris Program

Contact TLC Metal today for information concerning powder coating, sandblasting, laser stripping, metal polishing, metal plating, tire rim repair, and for your metal refinishing equipment upgrades. We will let you sample the recommended equipment that fits your needs since we are an authorized reseller for many top metal refinishing equipment companies.

If you are looking for a quality powder coating booth, a powder coating oven, or ideas about the latest pretreatments, our company can help. Our team has been restoring items for some time, and we have used the same equipment you are looking for ourselves, to complete our work here at our company. TLC Metal Restoration is also privileged to have some of the most exacting clients in New York. We like these kinds of people because they keep us on our toes. It is their quest for the best that has made us into experts in the fields of chrome plating, electroplating, cleaning, powder coating, antiquing, and polishing. We can guide you to the right equipment, answer your questions about different processes, and share your enthusiasm in bringing things, objects, and materials back to life.