How to start a powder coating business
Any piece of metal that is going to get heavy use needs to be powder coated rather than painted. Powder coating provides a tough coat of “paint” that is very scratch resistant. This is crucial when producing parts that are destined to find their homes on tractors, forklifts and other machines that see heavy use.
Many companies produce parts but not all have the ability to powder coat their product, which makes powder coating a potentially lucrative business.
- Any piece of metal that is going to get heavy use needs to be powder coated rather than painted.
Evaluate the amount of business you expect to do. If you already have a metal shop and need to outsource powder coating, you’ll know approximately how much volume you will need to produce each day. If not, it is better to start small and grow your business as needed.
Purchase a powder coating machine. Take into account the volume of parts you expect to produce. You can purchase a machine capable of processing thousands of parts a day, or a smaller machine that can coat a few hundred a day. The smaller machines are portable, making them ideal for smaller workspaces. You can add additional machines as business increases, or upgrade to a larger machine if needed.
Buy a curing oven that meets the needs of your business. If you will be producing small parts, you will only need to purchase a small batch oven. These can be as small as the oven in your kitchen and are the most affordable option. If you will be doing custom auto bodywork or making large parts, you will need a larger oven, such as a walk-in oven.
- Purchase a powder coating machine.
- If you will be doing custom auto bodywork or making large parts, you will need a larger oven, such as a walk-in oven.
Set up your workspace. You will need to set aside an area of this space to clean the parts with a solvent bath. A solvent bath contains degreasers to clean the grease and dirt off the part. This part of the operation can be as simple as a series of plastic buckets or as complex as a metal basin made especially for this purpose. You will also need a place to hang the parts once they have been cleaned. Set aside approximately 200 to 400 square feet for this purpose.
Create an enclosed ventilated space close to the machine. This is where you will paint the parts. Make a hole for the paint gun and hose to fit into the space. The space should be large enough for a rack of parts and the free movement of the person doing the painting. OSHA regulations stipulate that, “Space-heating appliances, steam pipes, or hot surfaces shall not be located in a spraying area where deposits of combustible residues may readily accumulate.” There are many other regulations dictating how this space must be constructed.
- You will need to set aside an area of this space to clean the parts with a solvent bath.
- The space should be large enough for a rack of parts and the free movement of the person doing the painting.
Create a workspace that is conducive to worker safety. Follow OSHA standards, as well as safe powder coating guidelines. For example, CETE, an organisation of powder coating professionals, recommends that when “powder coatings concentration exceeds 10 mg / m³, respiratory protective equipment (RPE) should be worn in compliance with the local legislation.” There are many other safety precautions you should take when starting a powder coating business, both for worker safety and to decrease your own liability.
- Create a workspace that is conducive to worker safety.
- There are many other safety precautions you should take when starting a powder coating business, both for worker safety and to decrease your own liability.
Spread the word that you have the ability to powder coat parts. You can get individual customers who want custom work done as well as large clients who need large numbers of parts coated. Do quality work and build a reputation for getting parts done in a timely manner and your reputation will spread. Don’t limit yourself to doing local work. There are small towns with metal shops that need to outsource powder coating work. This can be a fruitful source of business.
- You will need to buy pigments that are exactly the colour you need. You cannot mix pigments to create custom colours.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.