Powder coating isn’t a cut and dry science; rather, it is a complex realm involving many different types of resins, crosslinkers, flow aids, pigments, and more. Here is a look at the many different types of powder coat that are out there.
There are two major types of powder coating: thermoplastic and thermoset. Here is a look at each, along with the different types you’ll find under each category.
Thermoplastic powders maintain their chemical composition as they cool and solidify, and they can remelt after curing when exposed to sufficiently high heat. They are generally applied to surfaces that have been preheated to a surface that is much higher than the powder’s melting point. When a thermoplastic powder hits a heated surface, it fusion bonds to the surface and then flows out to create a smooth film. Nylon based is probably the most common type of thermoplastic powder, and there are also vinyl based and fluorocarbon based thermoplastic powders.
Thermosetting powders are used much more frequently in the world of powder coating. Like thermoplastic powders, they melt when exposed to high levels of heat, but unlike thermoplastic powders they can crosslink with themselves or with other added components during the melting process. Ther change chemically as they cool and solidify, so that actually will not melt when re-exposed to heat, as thermoplastic powders do. Thermosetting powders are derived from four main types of resins: polyester, epoxy, acrylic, and fluoropolymer.
Polyester based powder coats are the most frequently used type of powder coat in the U.S., with over 60 percent of the market using polyester based powder coatings. Polyester based powder coats hold up especially well to outdoor exposure and have all-around strong characteristics.
Epoxy based powder coatings don’t hold up particularly well to outdoor elements, but they have several interior applications, including industrial equipment, metal furniture, and automotive underbody components.
Acrylic based powder coatings are used as a clear coat over materials, and you’ll probably see them most frequently used in the automotive industry. An acrylic clear coat has good clarity, and it is typically very chip resistant as well. Acrylic resins can also be added to polyester based powders to improve flow and leveling and enhance stain.
Fluoropolymer based powder coatings are a common go-to for the ultimate outdoor durability, and they are very strong against outdoor elements and provide UV stability.