Powder coaters, I have a spooky truth for you this Halloween season: the call is most likely coming from inside the house.
In other words, as much as we’d like to blame the powder, the weather, or even the part itself, we are frequently the architects of our own problems in the powder booth.
Here are some common mistakes we’ve all made at some point.
Touching parts with bare hands.
No matter how religiously you wash them, your hands are moist and oily. This is no big deal if you’re touching raw parts – skin oils should wash away easily during pretreatment. If you’re touching pretreated parts, however, make sure you’re wearing gloves. Residual hand oil (not to mention lotion, pizza grease, or WD40 from that cart you fixed) can cause fish eyes in the powder coating.
Not blowing off debris.
A batch shop setup like Kaser’s naturally leaves parts more exposed than an automated line would. No matter how clean I strive to keep the shop, a stiff breeze will always kick up debris – and if there happens to be a cart in its path, that dust will settle on the parts. I recommend blowing your parts off one last time before coating them, just in case.
Not changing suits (or not wearing a suit at all).
If social media has taught me anything about powder coating, it’s that most people don’t wear coveralls in the booth. I’ll never understand that. Safety concerns aside, why would anyone choose to put themselves at such high risk for color contamination? Wear coveralls while you’re spraying (a different set for each color), blow them off when you’re done, and replace them when they get too dirty.
Not scheduling enough time between projects.
Managers, you do not want your operators rushing through their color changes. Ask them how long it takes perform a cautious, thorough booth cleaning, and factor that into the production schedule. A dirty booth almost always results in contaminated coatings.
Spraying substances on the shop floor.
Windex, bug spray, WD40 – whatever you’re spraying on the shop floor, assume that it’s lingering in the air much longer than you’d like it to (because it probably is). Limit your aerosol use to non-production hours as much as you can, and never spray these substances anywhere near uncoated parts.
All of these points boil down to a single theme: hygiene. We live and work in a dirty world. The more energy we put toward creating a clean environment, the happier we’ll all be with our coatings.