Guess what one of my New Year’s resolutions was?
Yes I finally went thru a bunch of pics & have another production installment for you!
The last update was all about fab… cutting, bending, etc., so let’s jump into the next phase… powdercoating! Since two different shops did the fab & powder work, I decided to receive all cases from fab and check for quality before sending parts to be powdercoated. That gave me a chance to re-sort all parts into color batches, which is something I could have had the fabricator or powdercoater do, but they hate that type of work and the risk of error is too high. Rented delivery truck to the rescue!
Cases were unassembled, with parts for each case boxed together. Originally the cases were going to be assembled by the fabricator, but there was really no need, since they’d have to be unassembled for powder anyway.
So basically QC and prep just meant unboxing all the cases and doing a visual inspection for quality and to make sure all the parts for each case were accounted for. Then the parts were reboxed into the appropriate color batches (Battleship Grey II, Satin Black & Satin White).
But before that, I decided to hand-file the slotted vents on the front & top of each case. If you look very closely at the slots on the case, you’ll probably see tiny points along the inner edge of the slots. They’re a side-effect of the cutting process… the slots are punched out with repeated hits from a 2” oblong tool, the points appear where two punch hits overlapped, shown in this pic:
Anyway, to make a long story short, even though they’re small to begin with, especially once powdercoated, I decided filing at least the slots that would be visible when cases are sitting on our desks would be cheap insurance in case powdercoating wouldn’t cover them completely. They aren’t completely invisible even now (especially to me ), but that’s why you can see them less on the front & top than the bottom & back.
So with that it’s off to powder! I found a great shop to do the work, like with the fabricator I toured 3-4 shops before deciding on one. They’re not the cheapest but the quality of their work spoke for itself and they delivered everything ahead (!!) of schedule.
Their facility is partially automated. They actually have several sets of conveyors… they choose which one to use based on the size & quantity of the parts being coated. The conveyor takes parts thru a wash, dry, powder and finally a baking process, with the powder applied while its moving through the booth.
Big huge parts go in the big huge booth (check the size of the sprayer for reference)...
Regular booth for our stuff...
Powder being applied
IIRC this is the first part of the curing process where heat is applied to melt the powder so that it smooths out & bonds to the metal. The big metal structure behind the lit area is also part of the oven & its huge… maybe 100 ft long.
The conveyor moves reeeeeeally slowly, like almost barely noticeable, which allows plenty of time to thoroughly coat parts. And the shop is pristine… these shots are in a huge warehouse (no idea how huge but you can see ppl in a few pics to get an idea of scale… you can only see about a third of the shop in these pics), and every inch of it is spotless. I think that’s one of the most critical factors in choosing a powder or paint shop… because any dust & debris that’s flying around is going to end up on YOUR parts.
Like I mentioned, everything was done on time and the quality of the powder is pretty amazing. I did have to send a few flawed parts back for a recoat and it was done no questions asked!
Some glamor shots of the finished product... I posted some of these already but can’t remember which ones...
That’s it for powder, next up is assembly.