The modern era of powder coating

The history of powder coating begins in the late 1940s and early 1950s, at a time in which organic polymers were still being spray coated in a powder form on to metallic bases. Dr. Erwin Gemmer, a German scientist, developed in those days the fluidized-bed process for the processing of thermosetting powder coatings, and registered an appropriate process patent in May 1953. Between 1958 and 1965, literally all powder coatings, generally only functional applications with a film thickness of 150 µm to 500 µm, were processed by means of fluidized-bed application. Electric insulation, corrosion and abrasion resistance were in the foreground. The coating materials in those days comprised nylon 11, CAB, polyethylene, plasticized PVC, polyester and chlorinated polyether, among others. At the same time, thermosetting epoxides, e.g. for dishwasher baskets (PVC), for heat insulation (epoxide), for boat accessories (nylon) and metal furniture (PVC, CAB). It was the firm of Bosch that developed the basic type of expoxy resin powder when searching for a suitable electric insulation material.

The high film thicknesses for numerous applications, and the technology of electrostatic processing of powder coating, which was developed shortly after in the U.S.A., and was used commercially between 1962 and 1964 in the U.S.A. and Europe, did not allow the fluidized-bed process to become significant. With the electrostatic spray-guns made by the firm of Sams for electrostatic application and which gave rise to the term "Samesizing", this hurdle was also overcome. Between 1966 and 1973 the four basic types of thermosetting resins, which are still defining today, were developed and commercially marketed: epoxy, epoxy polyester hybrid, polyurethane and polyester (TGIC). The number of powder-coating plants in Germany alone rose from four in 1966 to 51 in 1970. From the early 1970s, powder coating then began its march of triumph worldwide, even though the growth of the powder coating market was until 1980 initially slight. The plants up to that time were expensive, the film thicknesses too high for commercial use, color-change problems and high curing temperatures greatly limited the color tone, effect and substrate diversity.

From the early 1980s, powder coatings have developed worldwide through continuous growth, which, driven forward by continuous innovations in the raw materials available, improved formulation know-how and advances in application technology and the development of new applications (e.g. MDF and coil coating) and not least due to the increasingly restrictive environmental-protection regulations, will also be constantly continued over the decades to come.

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