Powder coatings have steadily gained popularity as an alternative to liquid coatings due to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with liquid coatings. Powder coatings are durable, help simplify environmental compliance and allow a high-quality finish. This is why in 2003 – at the turn of this century – roughly 15% of the industrial finishing market preferred them. Since then, it has been growing in popularity as an option for liquid coatings.
However, designing spray paint booths for powder applications requires a different approach than liquid booths. When incorporating a powder booth into your manufacturing line, the 3 biggest questions to answer are:
- Will the powder coating be applied manually or automatically?
- How often does the color change?
- Is the booth intended for powder only, or powder and liquid coatings?
Manual vs Automatic
The first thing your booth’s design should address is whether your operation will implement manual or automatic spray applications. Manual applications require an operator, which presents stricter filtering and airflow requirements for both liquid and powder applications. However, there are other considerations that need to be taken into account when dealing with powder—as opposed to liquid—coatings. As confirmed in a recent article by the Fabricator and Manufacturers Association, although powder coatings are known to be non-flammable, they can be highly flammable when in an atomized state—such as during a spray application.
One Color vs Many Colors
The second operational factor to keep in mind is the number of colors that will be used in your booth. Powder booths designed primarily for one color can take advantage of a reclaim system. Up to 98% of the overspray from powder coatings can be recovered and reused, which makes reclaim systems especially helpful for operations that require only one color.
These systems require less powder coating material since overspray is reused. However, a reclaim system does not work well with multiple colors. It requires individual color cartridges to reclaim each color, separately; some powder booth manufacturers offer quick color change collector modules that help to address this issue.
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Spray-to-waste systems should be considered when many colors are used in small quantities and reclaim is not required. Multiple booths can be used for optimal efficiency and to eliminate color changeovers, sometimes with short color runs and consistently in high production runs. For long color runs, a reclaim cartridge-style booth, or cyclone recovery system booth, is typically the best fit.
Powder Only vs Powder and Liquid
The third question to address is whether or not your booth will be used for strictly powder coatings, or powder and liquid coatings. Due to the different requirements for liquid and powder coatings, manufacturers typically don’t have one paint booth to apply both types. However, for manufacturers with lower production requirements, a dual-use booth can save time on the production line for some applications. As the name states, dual-use booths accommodate both liquid and powder coatings—but it requires careful design and it’s critical to consult your spray booth designer.
Powder coatings differ from liquid coatings, thus the application method and equipment requirements must be suited for your particular coating. This makes crafting a booth that’s the perfect fit for your operation all the more necessary. Contact our team of booth design experts to create a custom booth that’s ideal for your paint materials, employees, and facilities—so that efficiency and safety go hand-in-hand!