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E-coating vs powder coating: what's the difference?

Getting the right finish for your product can give you the aesthetics you need, along with the longevity and cost requirements of your project.

Both e-coating and powder coating can be applied to materials ranging from metal and wood to glass and plastics. Each process requires baking at high temperatures to set the paint in place. Materials that can melt easily, such as rubber, are not ideal applications for either of these processes.

Whether your industry is healthcare, manufacturing, or construction, choosing between e-coating and powder coating is an important consideration for achieving the correct finish. Both of these methods give a coat with an organic finish, but the product used and the method of transferring the product is different. This gives each finish certain advantages and disadvantages to consider before choosing which is best for your project.

What is e-coating?

Before e-coating beings, pre-treatments are applied to make sure the surface is ready to be painted. The process of applying liquid paint on a material using e-coating has three key steps:

  • Electrocoat bath
  • Post rinses
  • Bake oven

The material is dipped into a tank of e-coat paint. This paint is attracted to the material as a result of electrochemical oxidation. To set the e-coat, the material is then baked in a specialised oven. The surface will now have a strong and corrosion-resistant coating that can last for many years.

What is powder coating?

Powder coating differs to e-coating because it involves the use of dry powder rather than a wet metal finishing process. This powder contains epoxy resins and several curing agents, giving it particular qualities we will discuss shortly.

Once the material is pre-treated, metal finishing engineers get to work using an electrostatic gun to force the particles onto the material’s surface. These particles are charged and naturally adhere to the surface. The final step is to cure the powder coating. Curing causes the particles to melt, which gives it a professional finish that decorates and protects the material against heat, cold, grime, corrosion, and bleaching.

The advantages of e-coating

The characteristics and composition of an e-coat make it particularly useful for two scenarios:

  • Where regulating thickness is very important, e.g. the automobile industry
  • If the material has hard to reach areas

Powder coats usually result in thicker coats, making regulation of thickness difficult. You have much more control with e-coating, thanks to the ability to regulate the level of the electric voltage being used. E-coating is also better at reaching difficult areas because it is immersed in paint, allowing a more thorough distribution of the coat compared to powder coating.

The advantages of powder coating

When it comes to aesthetics, durability, and sustainability of coating, powder coating delivers a harder finish. For industry and commercial use, this can be highly desirable. Due to the way it is applied and cured, powder coating gives a finish of unmatched weatherability, superb hardness, increased humidity resistance, improved gloss retention, and better protection against UV rays.

With these clear differences, it is important to consider the type of finishing process your material needs. Consider the industry you work in, the type of material, what it is being used for, and how long you need it to last to make the right decision for your business.

At Tomburn, we protect the integrity of your powder coating through accurate and effective pre-treatment services. We specialise in the pre-treatment of aluminium, mild and galvanised steel, zintec, and ferrous and non-ferrous castings. If you want more information about our pre-treatment and powder coating services, or you need a quote, get in touch with us simply by calling 02392 692 020.

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E-coating vs powder coating: what's the difference?

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Tomburn European Offices

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