Here’s a fun industry fact that most customers don’t consider: coatings that are not actively being sprayed must be stored.
This presents a spectrum of challenges for a small business like mine.
On the high-maintenance side, we have liquid coatings, which are combustible and require flame-retardant lockers. These storage cabinets are bulky, expensive, and extremely limiting. We can only stock as much product as will fit inside them.
On the low-maintenance side, we have powder coating, which is not nearly as hazardous. No specialty cabinets needed.
This does not mean, however, that boxes of powder can be left strewn all over the shop floor. If you want the coating to look good when it’s cured, you have to follow the three rules of powder storage.
Control the temperature.
I cringe when I see videos of folks storing their powder coating near their ovens. Powder changes state as it heats up – that’s what it’s designed to do. On days where the shop floor reaches well over 100 degrees (which is most summer days in Nebraska), powder can start to gel in its box.
You also don’t want the powder to be stored in cold temperatures, or experience dramatic temperature swings quickly. Find an area that’s heated in the winter, and air conditioned in the summer. At Kaser, that means we’re storing powder in the employee breakroom.
Control the humidity.
Take it from a Nebraskan: ambient humidity causes powder coating to clump, making it tough to spray. If your climate resembles mine, invest in a dehumidifier.
Check your manufacturing dates.
Conventional wisdom states that if you’re more than a year from the powder’s date of manufacture, you might have issues. Proceed with caution and spray test panels. Some powders will remain good for several years, if you’re storing them properly; others (particularly RALs) will lose their gloss after a year or two on the shelf, no matter how carefully they’re stored.
As much as I would love to hoard vast stores of powder coating so that every customer could get the exact color they wanted, I can’t. My climate-controlled space is finite, as is the powders’ shelf life. I have to order powder wisely, and store it carefully.