Recently, there have been a number of exciting developments in the powder coating industry. Several new designs now provide quick color change for automatic systems and are capable of changing colors within six to eight minutes. This new capability considerably opens up the possibilities for and potential of powder coating. Powder coating must no longer be limited to one to two color changes per day; this is now old-school thinking. Automatic powder coating is almost as easy to change as automatic liquid coating. However, automatic powder systems can carry a high price tag. To address this concern, several companies that began with automatic powder systems later decided to convert to all-manual application (please see the video on Gema Opticolor below). But all-manual applications depend upon the number of color changes per day as well as upon the parts configuration. If a production line with several color changes per day also requires manual touch-up, then going all manual may be an option to save your company a considerable amount of money. For one thing, manual coating is far more efficient (please see the video OptiFlex-2 below). The technician coats only the specific section required so overspray is minimal. This makes the application considerably less expensive. And for another thing, if several color changes are necessary during an eight-hour shift, manual application will be faster. This reduces production downtime, and this equates to both cost efficiency and increased productivity.
Although the manual powder coating process is spray-to-waste, over-spray is minimal. And depending upon the part configuration, over-sprayed material can still be utilized. For example, hidden areas such as the back plates of commercial washing machines, (where the back sides of the machines are not normally seen), would be an ideal application for over-sprayed powder. Another potential benefit of manual coating is that many powder companies will recycle over-sprayed material. Certain powder companies will take over-sprayed powder and reformulate it, as long as it is of the same chemistry. This is definitely the “green” way to go. Gema has introduced a new manual gun, the OptiFlex-2, which is even more flexible and efficient — and it offers quick color change for the manual gun. The videos here present this new gun and its unique features.