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I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

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  • I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

    I have intended on sharing my findings for some time, but I wasn't not sure how it would be received. Keep in mind that this is extruded aluminum NOT cast. The process I use (or don't use) has been proven on several hundred pieces. I have done a great deal of experimenting and what I've found works.

    When I first started powder coating about a year ago I had different results with every piece I did. I consistently had finishes that looked like there was sand in them.

    After finding my way to the forum here, everything I read about this problem was blamed on out gassing, contaminated powder, or the oven was sucking in dust. I had a hard time believing my problem was out gassing because I use extruded/ machined aluminum. To me out gassing sounded like it would be a problem with cast aluminum not extruded. But, I went ahead and started preheating the parts as suggested, but it didn't seem to help much, as I was still getting mixed results. I began to think the problem was contaminated powder or that my oven was sucking dust. I was close to giving up on powder coating after all attempts to rectify the problem had failed. I had pretty much decided to start sending my stuff out to an anodizing shop when it dawned on me what the problem was.

    The solution actually came from my experience with Mold Making. A little over a year prior to getting started in powder coating, I was making some injection molds that I inject with rubber. After making the molds the last process is to media blast the mold. In the beginning I found that I would have to inject the mold 6-7 times to clean the sand (glass bead) from the pores before I got a clean part. Then by accident one day I spilled some oil on a mold I had just sand blasted and decided to boil it in hot water to clean it up. I found that I got a virtually "sand free" mold from the very first injection. At that time I didn't know that the pores in aluminum expanded when it was heated up, but I did make the connection with the mold being almost perfectly clean after boiling it.

    I'm not sure why it took so long for me to put 2 and 2 together with the powder coating but when I did it made perfect sense. What was happening was the media was getting embedded in the pores with the media blasting, then when the aluminum heated up and the pore expanded, the sand was push out. ( Probably during cooling.)

    Many people will likely say the problem was with the part being dirty to begin with, but I assure you I was overly couscous with shooting a perfectly clean part. I did experiment with several process of cleaning the part after media blasting (also tried diffrent presssures with the blasting) but nothing gave me a perfect finish. One of the processes went like this: Boil the part, then scrub with a clean brush while it was still hot, pre heat in oven, then brush down again and spray off with acetone (carburetor cleaner). With all that cleaning and pre heating I was still getting mixed results. Finally I just stopped blasting my parts and the problems have completely gone away. Currently, I do NOT pre heat any aluminum parts before powder coating, I have a 100% perfect out come on EVERY piece I do and I do allot!
    Last edited by mtumbleson; 08-30-2005, 04:08 PM.

  • #2
    Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

    Thanks for taking the time to write that up. Did you try any other media, like aluminum oxide, to see if you had the same problem?

    I sand blasted (with sand) a cast aluminum porch light that had the same effect even after pre-heating. I have wondered if it might be embedded sand, since that's what it felt like. After reading this I think that might have been what it was.

    Steve
    Steve Dold
    http://stevedold.com

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    • #3
      Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

      often times it is necessary to blast Al to strip other finishes or to get rid of small scratches, etc. It is absolutely necessary to clean off the residue left by blasting media prior to coating as there is residue left after blasting. If the part is absolutely clean after blasting you will not have this problem. Whetever works for you I guess!


      nutty
      Last edited by nuttyman; 08-31-2005, 01:39 AM.
      SouthWest Powderworx
      Tyler Nutter
      5054803934
      www.swpowder.com
      myspace/swpowder
      [email protected]
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

        Raw metal don't need blasted - clean very good and shoot !!!!
        Last edited by mcaswell; 12-12-2005, 11:06 AM.

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        • #5
          Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

          Originally posted by sdold
          Did you try any other media, like aluminum oxide, to see if you had the same problem?
          Steve
          No all I ever used was glass bead. I will concider it though...
          Last edited by mtumbleson; 08-31-2005, 10:40 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

            Originally posted by nuttyman
            often times it is necessary to blast Al to strip other finishes or to get rid of small scratches, etc. It is absolutely necessary to clean off the residue left by blasting media prior to coating as there is residue left after blasting. If the part is absolutely clean after blasting you will not have this problem. Whetever works for you I guess!
            nutty

            Excuse me if I take your post to be arrogant and condescending. As I stated in my first post I went through all the proper cleaning techniques and then some to assure a clean free surface before shooting.

            If your read my post with some care you see truth to what I'm saying. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I posted is true, I spent countless hours figuring out the problem. I will not argue with you about weather or not my conclusions are false or misinterpreted.

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            • #7
              Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

              Originally posted by customandsound
              Raw metal don't need blasted clean very good and shoot !!!!
              Yes sir I agree, but there is always some finishing needed when parts come off the mill.

              Media blasting is always the quickest and easiest to de-burr and prep the surface for powder coating. Problem is it's hard to sell a product with glass media in the finish.

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              • #8
                Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                mtumbleson,
                Sounds like you've got a system that works..
                For smaller parts we usually use a vibratory tumbler, takes longer but it's less expensive than blasting.

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                • #9
                  Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                  sheeesh! perception is a subjective thing I guess! my wife often tells me that I tend to be crass & insensitive when dealing with others. is this something left over from childhood?! I don't like arguing either.


                  nutty
                  SouthWest Powderworx
                  Tyler Nutter
                  5054803934
                  www.swpowder.com
                  myspace/swpowder
                  [email protected]
                  sigpic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                    Originally posted by Popeye
                    mtumbleson,
                    Sounds like you've got a system that works..
                    For smaller parts we usually use a vibratory tumbler, takes longer but it's less expensive than blasting.
                    The tumblers are a great idea, but I would need too many of them for it to be worth the investment. Right now, I simply de-burr with a 90* die grinder and sanding pad, hand wash in warm soap and water, spray down with acetone and shoot.

                    I have the system down, it requires very little prep and the pieces are turning out great. I find that the powder coat forgives "sins" that anno won't.

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                    • #11
                      Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                      Originally posted by nuttyman
                      sheeesh! perception is a subjective thing I guess! my wife often tells me that I tend to be crass & insensitive when dealing with others. is this something left over from childhood?! I don't like arguing either.


                      nutty

                      It just came across that you were insinuating the bad finish was do to the lack of cleaning prior to shooting, I can assure you wasn't the case.

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                      • #12
                        Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                        Originally posted by mtumbleson
                        Yes sir I agree, but there is always some finishing needed when parts come off the mill.

                        Media blasting is always the quickest and easiest to de-burr and prep the surface for powder coating. Problem is it's hard to sell a product with glass media in the finish.
                        I know all about the machine work involed.... But if you want to smooth it out a little greaseless sand compound works wonders ....

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                        • #13
                          Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                          I would guess with newly minted hardware that media blasting is not something that you have to do (but it is the easiest and fastest way to dress a part as the original poster stated). However, I can envision situations where you are refinishing/restoring an old aluminimun part where media blasting is almost the only practical way to get a part down to bare metal in preparation for powder coating. I think that mtumbleson has found a valuable insight into the problems with power coating after glass bead blasting aluminimun parts. So, we'd like to find a way to media blast without the issue of media showing up in the power coat finish. Seems there are two ways to attack the problem, i.e. find a way to get the media cleaned out of the pores before pc-ing or find a media to blast with that does not have this problem. If I read the original poster right it sounds like boiling the part in water after blasting might help. This would be difficult on larger parts. Wonder what a hot, high pressure washer would do? I think a better solution would be to use a media that doesn't not have the problem in the first place. I've heard of media blasting with dry ice (frozen C02) pellets. Can't remember what the application was but that would have the advantage that any media that embeds in the pores will turn to gas and evaporate. I have no idea what frozen C02 pellet media would cost, and of course you have to buy the stuff and use it fairly quickly so that's a hassle, but you definitely won't end up with media in your powder coat. Maybe there are other media that would also be better than glass beads, but it would take some experimentation to find out.

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                          • #14
                            Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                            aluminum shot should do the trick, it comes in very small pellets and is said to feed thru standard blaster guns.
                            when in doubt polish it out/ why replace it when you can refinish it
                            G2 Polishing and Powdercoating

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                            • #15
                              Re: I found sand blasting aluminum prior to powder coating is a big no-no.

                              We powder a fair amount of extruded aluminum as well. Larger parts we blast with aluminum oxide and we see excellent results. It must be specific to glass beads as suggested by Sdold.

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