(Update – Schaffer Manufacturing no longer does powder coating. Schaffer Finishing is now called Rocket Powder Coating and is an independently owned company. This article is active for reference reasons only).

It’s not necessarily the outcome we envisioned, but there is something positive in a customer that bases its powder coating expectations on previous experience contracting with you. And then models its new, in-house powder coating shop on your batch operation.

Schaffer Manufacturing experienced both with an enclosures OEM large enough to justify capitalizing a dedicated, internal powder coating capability. But there is a lesson here for any size manufacturer. The good news – especially for organizations that need to outsource finishing – is that powder coating continually gains ground as a more technically understood, more cost-effective and higher-performing option alongside traditional wet paint.

There are circumstances – depending on requirements for finish durability and quality – when it is appropriate to evaluate finishing projects on a case-by-case basis. When a finish performance threshold is lower, wet paint is a less expensive capability to install, staff and operate internally.

Schaffer Manufacturing established a dedicated batch powder coating operation in 2010 to expand single-source fabrication and finishing capabilities for sheet metal and heavy fabrication. The company will expand the powder coating operations by 12,000 feet in 2014.
But there is no question that the technology behind powder coating – surface prep and pre-treatment, electrostatic application and high-temperature curing – delivers the most durable, most uniform and most corrosion-resistant finish. The ability to finish in one coat, along with manipulating custom colors, textures and cosmetic concepts, completes the case in favor of powder coating.

Schaffer has operated a wet paint line for most of the company’s history. At the same time – thinking much like the OEM that blazed its own powder coating way – we saw by 2010 that a dedicated powder coating shop was required to provide customers with the best version of single-source, vertically integrated fabrication. Certainly for sheet metal, which is mostly powder coated. But also for heavy fabrication, which is seeing more and more conversion from liquid to powder.

Interestingly, in the case of heavy fabrication, the tipping point is not whether to choose wet paint or powder coat for durability. That issue is settled. The decision often comes to down to whether a powder coat operation – in-house or outsourced – can accommodate large, heavy parts and weldments. With a history in heavy fabrication, Schaffer developed pretreatment, spray booth and curing elements of the powder coating operation to process large structures. At 30 feet long, the powder coat oven represents the top end of what is available among powder coating suppliers.