To refinish or repaint a metal part or product (such as expensive car wheels, frames, etc.), you will often need to strip away the powder coating.
But the greatest strength of powder coating, the durability, is what makes it difficult to remove.
So, in my opinion, unless it is necessary, you should not try to remove powder coating from metals.
But if you do need to remove the powder coating from metal for any reason, the easiest method is to try sandblaster. Although it won’t be easy, the process can work and help you remove powder coat from most metals successfully.
Alternatively, there are a few different ways that you can go about it.
What follows is a simple guide that might help you remove the powder coating safely.
Removing Powder Coating from Metal
These methods and tips will help you retreat the metal surfaces later as per your requirements.
Method 1- Chemical Stripper to Get Powder Coat Off
The chemical stripper is normally the first option available. You can choose from a wide variety of chemical strippers depending on the application.
For example, a high production setting where plenty of powder coating will need to be removed may require a dip tank.
However, if a dip tank is not an option because of the size of the part or product, then you will need to use a brush.
There are different chemical strippers available that are specific to either dip tank or brush use.
Arguably the biggest pro in using a chemical stripper is that you will get an even result. This is especially true if you use the dip tank method.
This is the main advantage of using a chemical stripper is that the part or product should be uniformly cleaned off the powder coating.
Plus, you can use chemical strippers for either large or small parts or products equally. I
It helps that the purchase price of most strippers is quite low and affordable.
The biggest issue with chemical strippers is the danger they present.
Using a chemical stripper will require protection, most normally a respirator or mask that can filter out harmful chemicals.
Plus, you will need to work in an area that is well-ventilated.
The disposal of chemical strippers will also require some environmental guidelines, as you can’t just pour them down the drain.
However, one drawback may not be a disadvantage at all, depending on why you are stripping away the powder coating.
The chemical stripper will leave no profile behind on the part or product.
If you are planning on using paint to cover the surface after removing the powder coating, the lack of a profile may make it more difficult for the paint to stick properly.
This means using additional methods to create a profile for the paint to adhere properly to the surface.
Requirements of Chemical Strippers:
Depending on the extent or the area in which you need to use a chemical stripper, using a piece of proper equipment to get the job done can help a lot.
For a small spot, you may only need a brush or cloth to apply the stripper.
While a large area may require a dip tank, and finally, you will need a safe way to dispose of the stripper once its work is done.
Method 2- Heat Removal for Powder Coating
If you are uncomfortable using chemical strippers or want a profile on the surface after the powder coating is removed, heat removal may be the answer.
Applying intense heat will either fluidize, bake, or burn away the powder coating without using chemicals.
There is a difference between the three results that you must consider before using heat in the removal system.
This is a stripping system that is abrasive in nature and causes the bed of the coating to heat up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
640 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 6 hours. You will need to wash away the remaining powder once the process has been completed.
1000 to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, which should burn away the coating in just minutes.
This provides rapid results, but the part or product will need to withstand the high temperature.
Heat removal is fast, efficient, and does not use any dangerous chemicals, so there is nothing to dispose of.
If you have large amounts of powder coating to be removed, heat may be your best solution.
While heat removal has its advantages, there are some significant issues as well.
One of the most prominent is the cost of heat removal, which may run into thousands of dollars.
Plus, you may also have to pay for the natural gas or electricity used to generate that much heat.
Even getting that type of heat in an oven may be quite the challenge.
You will need to purchase a special wash that will remove the burnt remains of the powder coating once the heat has been applied.
And just like using a chemical stripper, there will not be a profile that remains after the powder coating has been removed, which makes the part or product more challenging to paint.
Method 3- Abrasive Blasting to Blast Away Powder Coats
The third option is to use abrasive blasting.
As the name suggests, this process uses a media that is abrasive in nature which is propelled at high speeds to wear down the powder coating.
This is often known as sandblasting, even if sand is not used.
You will need to set up a room or cabinet for the blasting to take place.
The material you use for the blasting process will depend on how much powder coating needs to be removed.
So, you may need to run a few tests on small areas to find the right one.
A “sandblasting cabinet” is better suited to remove powder coating from small parts. While a “sandblast room” is better for larger parts or products.
For small parts, abrasive blasting may be the best method available. It’s simple, fast, and works well with most products or parts.
Additionally, the blasting will leave a profile behind so you can paint the part or product easier.
As fast as abrasive blasting is, it is not as fast as chemical strippers or even some methods of heat removal.
Plus, it can be quite expensive to use depending on the size and number of parts or products that need abrasive blasting.
You will need to use compressed air, which may be problematic depending on your situation.
Method 4- Laser for Stripping Away Powder Coat
Lasers can do a lot of things, including removing powder coating from surfaces.
Depending on the type of powder coating, the laser may be the best removal system available.
But when trying this method, you will need to be extra cautious.
The laser is versatile enough to be used on small to large surfaces.
It does not alter the substrate, which means you do not have to worry about the environment once it is completed.
There is no heat involved in laser removal, and it will not alter the surface of the product.
Lasers can be quite expensive to rent or maintain, especially for those who only occasionally remove powder coating.
The Bottom Line
So, there you have it—everything you need to know about removing powder coating from metal. If you are careful and take your time, the processes I mentioned above are not too complex.
Just be sure to follow all of the safety precautions and use the right tools and chemicals, and you should be able to get the job done without any problems.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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