This blog post was written with information from John Schneider, Powder/Lab Coordinator. He has worked at Kewaunee for 21 years.
The colors that we choose when designing a lab can have a huge impact on the feel of a space. Whether palettes are chosen to inspire innovation or to reflect brand identity, customers want the colors they select to enhance their space with a quality finish and enduring hues.
The Kewaunee powder coating process ensures Kewaunee customers that the color they choose will last through the test of time and the rigorous needs of most labs.
Kewaunee offers a variety of colors and custom powder coating options – seen here on the bases of these Venturi fume hoods.
What is Powder Coating?
Powder coating is a process that consists of applying a free-flowing, dry powder, explains Kewaunee metal lab technician John Schneider. As opposed to typical liquid paint used by others, Kewaunee powder coating is applied electrostaticstatically and then cured for a strong, durable finish. The curing process allows the powder to form chemical bonds, making for a lasting coating.
Done in house at the Kewanee campus in Statesville, North Carolina, Kewaunee powder-coated steel is durable, and will last for years to come. The powder coating process is efficient and environmentally friendly compared to traditional painting methods.
The Kewaunee powder coat process is made up of five steps.
Before the powder coating is even applied, Kewaunee Associates begin with a five step pre-treatment process. After cold rolled steel and textured steel parts have been completely welded together and before finishing, they are given a pre-paint treatment to provide the best powder coat adhesion and to prevent corrosion. Physical and chemical cleaning begins with an alkaline cleaner, followed by a spray treatment with a complex metallic phosphate solution to provide a uniform fine-grained crystalline phosphate surface to provide an effective bond for the powder coat finish and protect against humidity and corrosive chemicals.
This pre-treatment process at Kewaunee lays the foundation of the enduring finish and color that Kewaunee laboratory casework is known for.
Products are SEFA tested and certified in house by Kewaunee’s lab technicians. These tests ensure chemical and corrosion resistance and guarantee 4-H hardness (the SEFA standard for laboratory equipment).
This rigorous testing ensuring for efficient use in research and innovation for years to come.
While the Kewaunee powder coat process prioritizes chemical resistance, additives in the formula protect Kewaunee products from UV light that make their way through windows in labs. UV light can cause yellowing in unprotected paints, but the Kewaunee process and additives in the powder coat mixture keep the casework vibrant.
Temperature, humidity, and other factors can have a huge effect on the finish and hue of traditional liquid paint. This is not the case for powder coating. Powder coating allows for consistent color from product to product, no matter the time of year, humidity, or outside temperature.
Both of these factors ensure color matching in the field when customers upgrade or add equipment to an existing lab. Kewaunee’s colors won’t fade or falter, keeping lab color schemes consistent.
In addition to powder coated steel furniture, Kewaunee’s manufacturing expertise includes wood and resin.
Powder coating is much more environmentally conscious than traditional liquid paint. Powder coating does not require the use of harmful solvents or make the use of any volatile organic compounds. Unlike liquid paint, the powder coating process does not require the need for environmental air permits as there is no harmful materials released into the outside environment.
Powder coating is also more efficient in the usage of materials. About 75-80% of the powder is able to be reused in the next paint order. This keeps waste out of landfills and allows Kewaunee to pass cost savings onto the customer. The water used in the pre-treatment process is also able to be reused. The last two phases of the pre-treatment process involve freshwater finishes. The cleanest water from this process is backflow to other parts of the process that require water.
EFFICIENCY AND COST SAVINGS
The powder coating process is much simpler, energy-efficient, and less labor intensive than traditional liquid painting. After switching from liquid paint to powder coating in 2003, Kewaunee was able to simplify its entire process. The powder coating process turned out to be about one-third the length of the previous liquid painting practice. This means less energy usage and a quicker turnaround time for lab furniture manufacturing.
Learn more about Kewaunee adaptable casework.