If you are completely new to Powder Coating, I recommend that you start off by getting a beginner Powder Coating Gun. These are priced at less than $200. After you have that, you can try it out and see if its something you want to pursue. This post will talk about some good powder coating guns you can start out with, but first take a look at some of the other equipment and supplies supplies you will need.
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Powder coating gun - Read about them below in this post.
- The object to be powder coated
- Air Compressor (Unless you use the Craftsman powder coating gun)
- No-contact Infrared Thermometer
- Grounding Rod
- Media Blaster
- Powder Coat Stripper - for WHEN you mess up.
- Degreaser & Soap
- Masking supplies: plugs, high-temp tape, blue painters tape, etc.
- Denatured Alcohol
- Lots and lots of powder-less gloves
- Pre-treatment processes (iron phosphate, zirconium phosphate, zinc phosphate, zinc electroplating, zinc galvanizing)
- Head over to the Recommended Supplies area to see exactly what you may need to powder coat.
Powder Coating Gun
The powder coating gun serves the purpose of spraying powder and adding an electric current to the powder so it is attracted to the metal part. The amount it charges the powder is measured in KV/kilovolts (1,000 volts = 1 kilovolt). Cheap guns have a preselected KV and more expensive guns allow you to choose. Powder coating guns range from $60 airless powder coating guns to $4,000 for the professional powder coating setups like Wagner, Nordson, and Gema. If you already have a powder coating gun, make sure you are using the correct spraying techniques.
Craftsman Powder Coating System: (No Air Compressor needed)I will start with the cheapest possible gun to get you coating. It is the Craftsman Powder Coating System. You can see my full review here: Craftsman Powder Coating System Review
The Craftsman gun is the only powder coating gun that does not require an air compressor. If you are interested in this gun because you don't have a compressor, also see Alternatives to Sandblasting since you would need an air compressor to do any sand blasting.
For the beginner, this Craftsman powder coating gun performs well and is cheap enough to let you know if you would like to pursue powder coating. This was the first gun I bought and I used it to produce a lot of very nice finishes:
|Brake Caliper Coated with the Craftsman Powder Coating Gun|
I would call this gun under-rated. Powder coating forums will generally look down on it and it has some bad reviews because there is a part on the gun that breaks for even using a feather-lite touch. If you want to try out powder coating without spending much money, don't worry about that stuff. This gun has limitations, but the biggest limitation as a beginner will be your experience. The piece that breaks is a lock to hold the cup in, however it isn't really necessary. My cup has never fallen out even without the lock.
The gun is very easy to use. I do not suggest using the ground wire that comes with the gun, but instead using a stand-alone grounding rod (explained here). The ground rod method should always be used instead of the guns ground, regardless of gun.
The clear plastic cup has a couple issues:
-It does not hold much powder.
-The lid on the gun fits so tightly that if there is any powder on the lip, the lid will not tighten. First I use a spoon to scoop powder into the cup, trying not touch the sides, then I use a small paintbrush and just brush off any powder in the grooves on the lip before I tighten the lid.
-Before I had a compressor to blow the cup out with air, I used a pressure washer, and this cup is designed with so many unnecessary nooks and crannies that it is very difficult to clean even with that.
After you manage to get the powder in the cup, you simply slide the cup onto the gun, plug the gun in the wall, attach the grounding rod to the part you are coating and you are ready to go. There is a metal pin that sticks out of the middle of the gun that charges the powder, this pin will get coated with powder and lessen the efficiency of the gun so you remember to wipe it off when you see it covered. I use the same little paintbrush I mentioned earlier for this, just stick it in the hole and swirl it around. (If you decide to use a paintbrush for these tasks, make sure to keep it clean. I keep it in a zip-lock baggy when not in use and I blow it off before and after every use.) I know it seems like I mentioned quite a bit of defects about this gun, but really, after you get used to it, it works, and for the price compared to other guns, it works amazing. It comes with some plugs and a roll of high-temp tape, although you will need more than just these plugs very quickly.
For those of you that have the Craftsman gun and have access to a 3D printer, a hero among us has created 3D printable cups. These cups are larger than the factory cups and they have a screw on fill port to add more powder. This allows you to avoid dealing with the extremely tight fitting factory lid. He also created a gravity feed hopper type cup that allows you to screw on powder containers. Here is the link: Craftsman Powder Coating Gun Extended Capacity Cups
These next powder coating guns are still beginner guns but the main advantage compared to the Craftsman powder coating gun is that the powder containers screw directly onto the gun. There is no cup to fumble around with. For any of the guns below, you will need an air compressor.
Harbor Freight Powder Coating GunThe next price up is the Harbor Freight Powder Coating Gun:
I have never used this gun, but to me, all of Harbor Freights tools fall into one of two categories: Amazing Deal or Absolute Garbage and you can determine that by the reviews on their site. Considering this gun has a 5 star review, I would say it is a good powder coating gun. Harbor Freight also sells 4 different colored powders: matte black, red, white, and yellow. I have used their matte black, the first container was good, the 2nd and 3rd container were clumpy and no amount of straining removed the clumps completely. I now use these powders only for items where the appearance isn't that important. The good thing about the powders is how cheap they are and if you dump the powder in the garbage, the container it comes in screws right onto the harbor freight gun. So save the containers, and you can fill them with any powder you want, just make sure you thoroughly clean the containers out.
Eastwood Powder Coating GunsThe next is Eastwood's line of guns, they have a Hotcoat Starter and a dual voltage powder coating gun. You remember I mentioned adjustable KV (kilovolts) above, well the dual voltage gun offers you the adjustment of 2 different voltages which comes in handy when you are shooting 2 coats. Eastwood also sells there guns in a line of starter kits that come with plugs, tape, and assorted powder colors. They also come with Eastwood's instruction manual, a manual which you should ignore for the most part as there is some information in it that is flat out wrong and coaters have been asking them to change it for awhile now. The Eastwood powder coating gun is considered a step up from the harbor freight gun.
Hotcoat Dual Voltage Gun:
This gun has 2 preset voltages for you to select. Normally you would use 2 different voltage settings when you are doing 2 separate coats, however both of the settings on this gun are low to begin with so the main advantage is that is has the higher voltage of 25kv to shoot larger parts such as wheels or sheet metal. All of the other above mentioned guns have around a 12-15kv setting that you cannot change. Basically the higher the KV, the more your powder will be attracted to the part, until you set it too high and the powder actually bounces off the part. An example of a high KV setting would be over 90kv. This gun is $160+shipping, comes with plugs, tape, powder, etc. and as far as you can go with a beginner gun. Eastwood has several more starter kits and they also sell a large selection of powders.
I am curious to see what type of powder coating guns everyone is using. Leave a comment and let me know. Also if you enjoyed this post, you can share it on your pages: