“So What Do You Do, Exactly?”

I spend so much time around the Kaser team (and interacting with fellow industry professionals on social media), that I have to pause when I hear “so what do you do?” from someone in a public setting.

If I say the words “blasting, powder coating, and liquid coating” to the person who’s cutting my hair, it’s likely they won’t know what on earth I mean. Nor should they.

At Kaser Blasting & Coatings, we’re finishers. New parts come to us from the fabricator, or old parts come to us from the public, and we’re doing what needs to be done to make those parts look good: rust removal, old coating removal, primer, color, gloss – whatever the customer asks for. You could say we’re (at least partially) in the aesthetics business.

I say “partially” because while your parts will look good when we’re through with them, the far-more-valuable service we provide is long-term corrosion protection. Anyone can slap a pretty color on a part; it’s much harder to make sure that that coating – and the part it’s protecting – will still be in good shape five years from now. So how do we do it?

We start with blasting. Any metal part – new or used, rust-free or rusty, previously-coated or not – can be blasted. Most people are familiar with the concept of sandblasting. Sand was a popular blast medium years ago, and has since been largely replaced by more effective media; however, the core concept remains the same: using compressed air, we fire a sand-like substance (most commonly steel grit or crushed glass) at the part’s surface, stripping away rust, old coatings, and mill scale.

Aesthetically, the part looks much better after blasting. But blasting’s true value lies in promoting adhesion. Any coating we apply after blasting will “grip” the part, ensuring a longer lifespan for that coating. Coatings come in two options: liquid, or powder.

Liquid coating operates very much like the latex paint on your walls: the wet coating is applied, the water or solvents evaporate over time, and you’re left with a coated part. Powder coating, however, goes on as dry powder and then cures at 400 degrees. Both offer good durability, a range of finishes to choose from, and long-term corrosion protection.

So how do we choose between them? If cost or time are significant factors (as they are for most projects), we’ll lean toward powder. Powder coating materials are less expensive than liquid, and the turnaround time is much quicker – while liquid coating can take several weeks to cure, powder coated parts are ready for packaging as soon as they’ve cooled down.

Powder coating is not a silver bullet, however. Heat-sensitive parts can’t go in the oven. Projects that involve plastic, glass, or rubber components (including concrete trucks, dump trucks, and anything that can’t be disassembled down to bare metal) will be masked, and sent to the liquid coating booth. There are a few applications for which liquid coating out-performs powder coating. There are liquid chemistries designed specifically for ships’ hulls, for instance, while most powders won’t do well in submersion.

Plenty of shops specialize in aesthetics. If you’re spending the money to refinish a part, make sure the shop you choose also prioritizes corrosion protection. Otherwise, that pretty coating will have a much shorter lifespan than you want it to.

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