4 Reasons Why Powder Coating Is Good for the Environment
Jan 08, 2019 Comments (0)
Powder coating is a popular choice for sealing and protecting equipment. It's more resilient than paint, less expensive than electroplating and doesn't require any drying time.
Did you know that it is also better for the environment? Let's take a closer look at powder coating and discover why it's the best choice for companies that want to be a little bit greener.
1. Less Waste
When dealing with paint, any overspray is automatically discarded since it cannot be reclaimed and used again — as soon as it leaves the paint gun, it begins to dry. With powder coating, any overspray is in powder form, meaning it can be captured and reused, or even discarded with regular garbage because it contains no harmful chemicals.
This means there is no need for costly or dangerous disposal units and little to no waste when powder-coating a piece of equipment. The powder used in this type of coating doesn't dry or cure until it's exposed to heat.
2. No VOCs or HAPs
The biggest environmental concern when dealing with paint is the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Paint pigments are mixed with a solvent to make them usable, and as that solvent dries, the VOCs and HAPs begin to evaporate into the atmosphere around the project. VOCs can damage the ozone layer and create health hazards for anyone who breathes them in. In a contained, nonventilated space, they will continue to accumulate, reaching dangerous levels.
While paint manufacturers have started to create low- and no-VOC formulas, these paints are not as strong or durable as those with VOCs, making them useless for protecting equipment from the elements.
Powder coating contains almost no VOCs, and since the powder itself is inert, it doesn't release these materials into the atmosphere.
3. Easier to Fix Mistakes
If you make a mistake while applying paint, it's a mess. You need to remove the paint using solvents, which contain VOCs and HAPs, before applying a new coat of paint. It's wasteful, and it also pollutes the environment.
Before a powder-coated piece reaches the curing stage — where the equipment is baked to melt the powder and turn it into an even and durable coating — fixing a mistake is as simple as wiping it off with a clean cloth and recoating it. Any removed powder can be recycled or disposed of without generating additional pollution.
4. Federal Compliance
Companies and consumers aren't the only ones concerned about VOCs and HAPs. The federal government has turned its eye to the manufacturing industry to ensure the production of these hazardous chemicals is kept to a minimum. That's why so many paint companies have started producing low- or no-VOC paints.
Powder coating materials contain almost no VOCs, meaning they are already compliant with federal VOC limitations. This can save companies money, since they don't need to make any changes to their processes to become compliant.
You also don't need a specialized room to store powder-coating materials. Paint and other similar items are considered hazardous, so they need to be stored appropriately. The materials used to powder coat don't create any spill hazard. If a tub of powder tips over, it can be swept up and reused or disposed of without any additional tools or treatment.
A Greener Choice
Powder coating a piece of equipment might be more expensive initially, but the surface is more durable and environmentally friendly than using paint or any other coating method. Unlike paint, the powder can easily be laid to create a thicker coating without requiring additional layers, meaning less time is spent coating each piece of equipment. There is also no drying time with powder coating. Heat is used to cure the material, and as soon as it has cooled, it's ready to use.
In general, powder coating provides a better, more durable coating that will protect your equipment for years to come. As more paint manufacturers transition to low- or no-VOC formulas, those paints may no longer be able to provide the same protection. Powder coating is quickly becoming the best, most cost-effective and most environmentally friendly choice for equipment protection and weatherproofing.
Megan Nichols is a technical writer and blogger. She writes about engineering, science and technology topics. Megan is also editor of Schooled By Science, an easy to understand science blog. With Schooled By Science she hopes to encourage others to learn more about STEM subjects.