Can You Powder-Coat Plastic & What Coatings Work Best?

Colorful powder coating

Can you powder-coat plastic? We all know powder coating is excellent for metal, but what are the possibilities and limitations for other materials? 


Can You Powder Coat Plastics?

Generally, yes, you can powder-coat plastics. However, the process isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Powder coating involves applying dry powder to a substrate, which is then cured under heat to form a protective layer.  While powder coating is traditionally associated with metals, its application has expanded to other materials, including plastics.

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Keep in mind that powder-coating plastics come with specific considerations. One crucial factor is the plastic substrate’s temperature resistance. 

Since powder coating requires curing at high temperatures, typically ranging from 300°F to 450°F (150°C to 232°C), the plastic must be able to withstand these temperatures without warping or melting.


Which Plastics Can Be Powder Coated?

Not all plastics are suitable for powder coating. Thermosetting plastics, including polyester and epoxy, are generally more usable for powder coating due to their heat resistance and ability to cross-link and cure under high temperatures. 

Because these plastics provide a stable surface for the powder coating to adhere to, you can expect a durable finish.

On the other hand, thermoplastics, which soften when heated and solidify when cooled, are more challenging to powder coat. While some thermoplastics may work for these processes, they often require specialized formulations and pre-treatment to help with adhesion and stop deformation during curing.


Will Powder Coating Stick to Plastic?

Adhesion between the powder coating and the plastic is critical for successful coating. Surface preparation, substrate composition, and the powder coating formulation you choose all influence the adhesion process.

Pre-treatment methods, like chemical etching or abrasion, create surface roughness and promote adhesion by creating micro-mechanical interlocking between the powder coating and the plastic substrate.

Additionally, selecting a powder coating formulation designed for plastic substrates can improve performance.


What Materials Cannot Be Powder Coated?

Powder coating is a versatile method that works for a wide range of materials. However, certain substrates are not compatible with this process. 

For example, heat-sensitive materials that tend to change shape under high temperatures may not be the best candidates for powder coating. Substrates with complex shapes or surfaces that are not smooth can also pose challenges when trying to apply the coating evenly.

Some examples of materials that can’t be powder-coated include:

  1. Rubber: Rubber materials are generally unsuitable for powder coating. The curing temperatures used in powder coating can cause rubber to melt and deform. At Coating Systems, we offer coating options for products like rubber gaskets.
  2. Certain plastics: As mentioned above, some plastics can be powder coated. However, thermoplastics that soften when heated are unsuitable due to their low melting points.
  3. Wood: Wood is incompatible with traditional powder coating processes. It’s too porous and likely to burn or char at high curing temperatures.
  4. Metals with high thermal conductivity: Metals like copper and aluminum can pose challenges for powder coating due to their rapid heat dissipation. 

For products like copper busbars, we have options for anti-corrosive coatings. 


Custom Fluoropolymer Coatings for Plastics

The team at Coating Systems offers custom fluoropolymer coatings with exceptional performance. 

Our custom coatings can be applied to almost any surface material, including plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, composites, and rubber. 

With custom-engineered formulations and advanced application techniques such as wet spray, electrostatic powder, fluidized bed powder, and dip-spin coating, we can tailor our coatings to meet the requirements of each material. 

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Fluoropolymer coatings enable us to provide durable and resilient finishes for plastic products. Whether they enhance chemical resistance, improve wear properties, or provide a decorative finish, our coatings deliver exceptional performance in demanding environments.


Plastic Coatings at Coating Systems

Coating Systems, located in Greater Cincinnati, OH, can develop customized coating solutions with you and your company. Contact our team by calling 1-800-593-7754 or contacting us online.