Liquid vs powder painting – differences

Painting shops offer various methods of painting surfaces. The popular method of wet painting (liquid varnishing) is mainly used on plastics in industries such as household appliances, electronics, medical and the automotive industry, e.g. to renew car body coatings or paint decorative elements inside the car. The second frequently used technology is powder coating, which is most often found in heavy industry and in the production of steel elements. Learn the differences between these surface painting methods and find out when it is worth choosing a specific method.

What are powder coatings in painting?

The powder used to varnish the surface is a chemical substance that is hardened in an oven at high temperatures to make the varnish coating durable and resistant to mechanical damage. The electrostatic phenomenon is used for powder coating. Here we use an electrostatic gun and furnaces heating up to 200 degrees Celsius. The powder applied to painted objects melts, polymerizes and guarantees a durable finish of the item.

It is worth adding that powder coating uses substances free from volatile organic compounds, which makes working with powder safe, of course while maintaining basic health and safety rules.

Wet coating gives a possibility to choose paints without thinners – e.g. water-based varnishes or 100% UV varnishes, but for now, thinner-based varnishes dominate.

Liquid paints for wet painting – what makes them stand out?

Wet painting paints are not as durable as those used in powder painting, but they have a number of advantages. The advantage of liquid paints is their price, speed of painting, thin coating that does not disturb dimensional tolerances, variety of types of coatings in terms of visual and touch characteristics and the ability to paint virtually any part.

 

Powder painting

Wet painting

Application and types of substrate

 

Steel structures, car and motorcycle frames, engine casings and others – mainly metal elements.

Decorative elements for the car interior, sheet metal elements. A multitude of applications in virtually every industry – household appliances, furniture, medical, cosmetics and others. Painting plastic elements (any material, mainly ABS, ABS/PC, PP, PBT, PMMA, PE and others), painting glass, painting metals.

Surface preparation

 

Chemical cleaning, anti-corrosion protection and washing/degreasing are necessary.

For metals – degreasing, sometimes matting and dust removal are necessary. For plastics – only blowing with deionized air to maintain the highest purity.

Costs

 

Higher

Lower

Coating thickness

 

About 100 microns

About 20 microns

Resistance to damage

 

High level of resistance to mechanical damage, weather conditions and corrosion.

It depends on the type of coating – usually the resistance is slightly lower due to the smaller thickness of the coating, but for many industries dedicated paints are used for the indicated resistances – e.g. resistance to UV radiation, chemical resistance (e.g. for cosmetics), temperature resistance (for household appliances).

Surface finish

 

Smooth or matte, also textured, mainly glossy.

A multitude of visual and tactile effects to choose from – matte, smooth, textured, suede, metallic, rubber, pearl, chameleon, high gloss and many more

Paint application method 

 

Electrostatic powder spraying with an airbrush

 

Wet painting with an airbrush

Powder or wet coating – what to choose?

It is impossible to clearly determine which type of surface painting will be better. Here, a lot depends on the situation and the object we want to paint. First of all, you need to take into account what level of durability of the element you care about the most. If you want to paint a bicycle frame, building structure elements or even a car chassis – choose powder coating with a guarantee of durability. When it comes to bodywork and small car decorations or decorative elements from other industries, it is worth choosing wet painting.

 

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