Product profiling using systems such as this one from ECD Inc., Milwaukie, Ore., can help powder coaters optimize, control and document the quality of their cure finish.

Product profiling can help powder coaters optimize, control and document the quality of their cure finish. The benefits of cure profiling are explained in “Guide to Product Cure Optimization,” a 20-page manual from ECD Inc., Milwaukee, Ore. Those include:

1. Product Profiling Minimizes Product Liability Risks

Risk management is a real concern for every business, and powder coating is no exception. The product liability of providing a poor-quality powder coating finish could range from re-coating a few simple parts to the replacement of all products damaged by underexposure or overexposure to heat (complete product recall). The only way to totally manage risk is to be in total control. In turn, verification of control can only be certain when measurements are taken by proper testing equipment.

2. Product Profiling Reduces Operating Costs and Maximizes Profits

Scrap and rework are not the only costs of not knowing how your curing is progressing. Excessive energy costs are often overlooked. That is why well-informed powder coating companies proactively manage their cure windows.

To fully appreciate the heat energy required to cure various coating materials on a range of substrates, the metal finisher must understand the relationship between temperature, time and mass. The powder-material cure requirements are outlined by the product's technical data sheet. This information typically is given as time at temperature such as 10 min at 350oF (177oC). However, this does not mean the coating will cure on all substrates exposed for 10 min. total time in the cure oven at an atmospheric temperature setting of 350oF. Thin metal parts will ramp to temperature much more quickly than larger, heavyweight parts. Also, processing parts of heavy and light mass at the same time can further complicate variations in time, temperature and mass.

To proactively manage the cure window, two different types of checks are performed. First, thermal profiling checks are made on the oven periodically (weekly or, at minimum, monthly) to evaluate the evenness of heat energy distribution within the oven. Second, and most importantly, thermal profiling checks are made on the parts as they are being cured. A time-temperature substrate-mass relationship is determined by establishing a quantitative graph of time and temperature as the oven's atmospheric environment transfers the heat energy to the substrate's mass. Scrap, rework and energy costs may be kept to a minimum by the routine collection of accurate thermal exposure data.

3. Product Profiling Improves Processing Capacity

Confidence and control offered by knowing what is happening inside the cure oven will allow processing personnel to eliminate “trial and error” sample runs. The more time saved on a production run means that much more time is available for other production runs.

4. Production Profiling Can Improve Sales

Total quality management (TQM) and quality-driven management systems such as ISO 9000, QS-9000 as well as CE marking have redefined the meaning of quality partnerships. Profiling allows powder coaters to send quality documents along with all of their shipments.

To download a free copy of the manual or for more information on temperature profiling for powder coating, electronics or food applications, visit the link below.