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Substrate Inspection

Ensuring a best-in-class finish begins when materials enter our facility.  Substrates are inspected for oxidation, mill scale, material defects and fabrication issues such as tooling damage or severe weld spatter. Any potential substrate issues are documented and communicated to customers to determine the correct course of action.

Process Inspections

All stages of finishing are actively monitored and managed to optimize for the best possible outcome, beginning with how parts are loaded onto our production line. Coverage diagrams are used to determine the most efficient and effective method for hanging parts. This considers surface exposure for all production stages including pre-treatment, dry-off, coating and curing.

Visual inspections are completed after the dry-off oven to ensure parts are dry and have been optimally cleaned, and after the powder coating stage confirm full coating coverage on all critical areas.

Quality Control Tests

Once a product has gone through production, tests are run to verify that the finish meets the performance specifications for that particular cured powder.

  • Visual Inspection – Parts are visually inspected during the finishing process to identify any potential process issues.
  • Film Thickness – Determines the thickness range of the powder build up during finishing and thickness uniformity between coverage areas and parts. Thickness is measured in mils (thousands of an inch) and typically falls between 2-4 mils, though may be higher or lower depending on powder specifications.
  • Solvent Based Cure Testing – Curing happens when substrates achieve a certain temperature for a specific amount of time. MEK – methyl ethyl ketone – is a solvent that is used to test if finishes have cured properly. Rubbing MEK into a finished surface will quickly reveal if the finish is under-cured. Typically, q-tips are rubbed back and forth 25 times over a spot. If the spot begins to lose gloss and break down significantly, the finish has not cured properly. If gloss remains relatively similar and there is little to no color transference to the q-tip, the finish has been cured properly.
  • Temperature Profile Cure Testing – Consisting of a thermocouple, datalogger and a thermal barrier, this process allows for accurate measurement of part temperature profiles as they pass through the curing oven. Proper finish cure can be determined by comparing the temperature profile to the cure specifications supplied by the powder manufacturer.
  • Crosshatch Adhesion – A tic-tac-toe style grid is cut through the cured finish using a special 11-bladed scoring knife. Once scored, a special high-performance tape is firmly adhered to the crosshatch and then removed. A perfectly cured finish will result in no finish removal when the tape is pulled off. An acceptably cured finish may result in some minimal finish removal. Significant finish removal with the tape indicates that the substrate was not cleaned properly or that the finish is under-cured.

Packaging and Shipping

Once a run of parts has been finished and passed quality control testing, they are repackaged in preparation for shipping according to customer instructions. Our quality control specialists inspect parts during and after packaging to ensure that finish integrity will be maintained during transit.