What Not To Do in the Powder Booth

Two powder coating operators walk into the booth at the same time. They’re spraying identical parts with identical equipment, using powder from the same box. Even their gun settings match.

Why do their parts come out looking so different?

It turns out that powder coating is more than the sum of its logistics. There’s a lot of room for human error during the application process, particularly in a batch booth setup.

Here are a few pitfalls that trainees should avoid when learning to spray powder.

Don’t brush up against the part you just sprayed.

This is trickier than it sounds in a booth setup. If you’re walking between rows of parts hung on a cart, be mindful that your TyVek suit – not to mention the gun’s hoses – may make you bulkier and less agile.  There’s nothing worse than accidentally wiping off the powder you just sprayed. Hopefully, the person hanging parts will leave you plenty of room to maneuver.

Be slow or be close, but not both.

Most powder coating operators I see on social media have their guns way too close to the part. For best results, the gun should stay 6-8” away at all times. This lowers the risk of orange peel significantly. If for some reason you’re forced to get closer, consider speeding up your passes to offset how much powder you’re depositing onto the surface. You can be slow, or you can be close, but you should never be both.

Keep your finger on the trigger.

Banish the fear of wasting powder. I hold my gun wide open for as long as it takes to coat the whole cart, even if that means spraying into the air as I’m traveling between parts. This helps me maintain a consistent powder cloud. Better to have some powder fall on the floor than to risk inconsistent powder flow. And no matter what, never start or stop your passes on the part itself. Spray into the air for a beat or two before traveling across the part’s surface.

Check your settings.

If you’re doing everything right and are still unhappy with the coating, it could be a gun settings issue. Experiment until you figure out what works, and then program those settings so that you can return to them every time you spray those parts. Consistent settings will help you achieve consistent coatings, and will save you a lot of time.

It takes time to develop muscle memory. Pay attention to these pitfalls as you practice to instill good habits.

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