The final step in our series on powder coating is how to properly cure your powder coating. Proper curing is critical because it ensures your powder coating finish becomes durable and its color is fully developed. While curing is the final step in powder coating, take the proper steps to ensure the best results. In this guide, we will cover the following topics:
- determining the correct temperature and time to cure your powder coating,
- properly monitoring the curing of your powder coating, and
- potential problems.
Determining the Correct Temperature and Time to Cure Your Powder Coating
Two key factors to consider at when curing powder coating are: (1) the temperature of your oven and product, and (2) how long to let the part cure. Understanding these factors will ensure that your finish is durable and your powder coating color turns out as you expected. Fortunately, you can find these recommendations in the technical data sheet (below is a sample). A data sheet is supplied by every reputable powder coating provider. This is also where you would verify whether the cure time starts (a) when the surface reaches temperature or (b) when the product is put in to the oven. Once you know review these items, you can begin the curing process.
Properly Monitoring the Curing of Your Powder Coating
Bring your powder coating oven to the desired temperature then place your product into the oven. The key here is to monitor the temperature of your product as your coating cures. You can accomplish this with a basic infrared non-contact thermometer to check the surface temperature of the product. Once the proper temperature is reached, set a timer as recommended in the data sheet. When the timer goes off, your coating should be properly cured.
Technical data sheets are usually very accurate, assuming you have the proper equipment. However, if you notice that the powder coating is not smooth and you are confident that you did not over apply the powder, then you can add a few more minutes to the cook time. Most powders are durable enough to cook longer, but be careful that you do not over cure. Over curing may result in cracks and breaks in the powder coating’s finish, forcing you to sandblast the powder coating and start all over. Also note that thinner areas of your product will cure faster than thicker areas, so you will want to keep an eye on it so that it cooks just long enough for the thickest part to reach proper temperature and cure.
Now you know the basics of how to cure powder coating. The critical steps include checking your powder coatings technical data sheet, setting your powder coating oven time and temperature, and monitoring your product’s temperature. You can also make slight adjustments to the cure time based on what you see happening as the product cures – if the powder coat seems chunky and not uniform, consider allowing a little more time to see if it will spread out more evenly.