After a long break, it is time for another Where It’s Made. I know this is a travel blog, but we do like the kids to learn about a variety of things. That is why we started are Where It’s Made Series, but this one is going to be a different for a number of reasons. For one, it’s not just about the where something is made, but the how and why something is done. The second reason this post is different is because I happen to be related to the co-owner (Bro-in-law) of this business. The topic is Powder Coating, and it’s one of those things that’s so common that most people probably don’t even realize what it is. So let’s dig in.
I’m sure your first question is:
“Gee Alan, what is powder coating?”
That’s an excellent question Jimmy (I’m channeling my inner Mr. Wizard again)! Señor Google tells us that powder coating is a process where an object is covered with a polyester or epoxy powder, and then heated to fuse into a protective layer. The protective layer can be practically any color, and a range of textures and finishes are available. That may sound a lot like regular paint, but the powder coating process is actually a dry finishing process. The great thing about powder coating (vs. painting), is that it’s extremely durable, can be used in outdoor environments, and has a much longer life span.
Let’s say you have a Jeep frame (or any other part), that you want coated to protect against rust or the elements. The frame will be cleaned to make sure it’s free from oils or other contaminants. Once cleaned, the frame will be grounded electrically. Then an electrostatic spray gun (it’s essentially positive) is used to get the powder to stick to the frame. Think of a magnet where the frame is the N-pole, and the spray gun is shooting out S-pole powder.
There’s a lot of science that goes into this powder. It may look like colored flour, but the typical powder coatings are based on polymer resins that are combined with curatives, pigments, flow modifiers, leveling agents, and other stuff.
Once the powder is on, the frame is then put into a big industrial oven and baked until the powder has cured. By big, I mean big. Check this out:
Can you imagine how many pizzas you could cook in this thing?! It boggles the mind. Once the timer dings, it’s time to take the frame out of oven, and it needs to cool. All of that cool chemistry that goes into the making of the powder becomes evident, and once the piece has cooled, you have yourself an awesome looking frame that’s going to be able to take some abuse.
“How does powder coating compare to baked enamel?”
Another good question Jimmy. You’re awfully knowledgeable for such a young lad! There are a number of benefits to using powder coating, but the big one is that there are zero (or near zero) volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) in the powder coating process. The enameling process uses nasty solvents which are not environmentally friendly.
“What does it look like?”
Well, it can look like paint. There are literally hundreds of powder coat color combinations, and sometimes, the textures can be pretty exotic looking like gold-vein, or a rough texture. Here is a sample swatch:
Here’s a close-up of what the gold-vein powder coat pigment looks like:
Pretty cool huh?!
Sidenote: C&J Powder Coating is run by Eric Cisneros and Richard Jones (the “C” and “J” in C&J). These guys started their business from scratch and have a fantastic setup. Both are stellar guys who do outstanding work. Eric powder coated some motorcycle parts of mine, and they came out perfect. I just shipped the items I needed to be done and they worked their magic and returned them to me. They do a booming business out of St. George Utah, so if you ever need something powder coated, give them a call. Tell them Wagoners Abroad sent you!
I want to thank Eric and Richard for allowing us into their facility, and for taking us around. As a guy who works with software and “non-touchable” technology, it was important to show the kids a business where real, tangible stuff is being made, and it’s apparent that Eric and Richard have worked very hard to get their business to where it is today.
Enjoy the virtual tour…
I know what you are thinking: “What would I ever want powder coated?”. The answer is simple, just about anything! (ex: Frames, engine parts, rims, posts, yard art, fences, and so much more.) Just ask the experts below.
C&J Powder Coating
Address: 4012 S River Rd, St. George, UT 84790
Phone: (435) 673-6565