In many manufacturing applications, it is necessary to apply a specialized coating to the basket that holds parts or raw materials in between different manufacturing processes. There are many different kinds of coatings that can be applied to a variety of steel alloys. One of the most popular coating types is powder coating.
To get the most use out of your powder coated wire mesh baskets, it’s important to find the right application for the specific powder coating you're using. There are many different kinds of powder coating, which can be divided into two broad categories:
- Thermoset. These powder coatings will melt at higher temperatures, but still retain their chemical properties once they cool back down.
- Thermoplastic. These coatings will also melt at high enough temperatures, but will have altered properties when they cool because of changes in their molecular structure. This process is sometimes referred to as “curing” as it alters the properties of the coating.
How should you use custom steel wire baskets that have been powder coated?
Limit Coating Exposure to Temperature Extremes
High temperatures can cause powder coatings to melt. A typical powder coat can withstand temperatures of up to 300°F before melting, although some fluoropolymers can take up to 500°F.
When using a powder coat for your wire mesh baskets, be sure to check with the coating’s manufacturer what the maximum continuous use temperature of the coating is before using it in your manufacturing process. Melted coatings could transfer from the basket to your parts, which would not be ideal for maintaining your quality control standards.
Use Coating to Absorb Shocks in Ultrasonic Cleaning
One of the biggest challenges in ultrasonic cleaning is avoiding scuffing or scratching delicate parts during their exposure to the extreme vibrations of the cleaning process. This is an issue that powder coated wire mesh largely limits.
Depending on the application method used, powder coatings can be extremely thin—as little as 0.001” in thickness. This helps to eliminate “webbing” from forming between closely-spaced wire mesh and minimizes the interference that the coating could cause with the ultrasound vibrations during cleaning.
Also, powder coatings can be both soft and durable, cushioning impacts with the parts being held without being scraped off of the basket. This helps to keep parts from getting scratched while maintaining the integrity of the coating.
Use Coating to Prevent Corrosion from Strong Chemical Exposure
Powder coats tend to have good chemical resistance, suffering only minor damage from exposure to oxidizing agents over time. This helps keep the wire mesh underneath from being damaged by harsh chemicals until the coating itself is stripped away.
When damage does occur, it is often a simple matter to remove the old coating and reapply it—especially if it is a thermoset powder coating. This helps extend the life of wire mesh baskets and reduce the total cost of ownership over time, since powder coatings are usually much less costly than the baskets they cover.
Basically, the best way to use powder coatings for your wire mesh baskets is to protect those baskets while matching the properties of the powder coat to your manufacturing process.
For more help on using coatings for your custom steel wire baskets, check out some of Marlin Steel’s other resources, such as the Steel Coatings Reference Sheet, which gives an overview of several different steel coatings and finishes: