A paint company and one of Australia's major research organizations have developed new technology that allows plastic components, such as those used by auto manufacturers, to be powder coated.
Melbourne-based Dulux Australia Ltd. and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, headquartered in Canberra, Australia, said the Customcoat QP process is the result of more than 12 months of research into ways to cut waste, carbon dioxide emissions and volatile organic compounds used in traditional solvent-based paint finishes.
“The challenge in this project was to overcome the previous limitations of spray-on powder coatings,” said Bill Matthews, Dulux's technical manager for powder and industrial coatings. “This has involved CSIRO's patented new technology that allows plastic to become conductive to electricity, and Dulux's development of a powder coating that can be applied to plastics and cured at low temperatures.”
CSIRO said the Australian automotive industry alone uses about 2.7 million gallons of liquid paint a year, including paint for decorative finishes on plastic components such as interior trim panels, engine covers, body parts and bumper bars. About 600,000 gallons of paint is lost as waste.
“There are significant benefits for the designers of many products, as use of Customcoated plastic reduces weight, cost and environmental impacts,” Mat¼thews said. “The process can be applied to color just the surface of plastics, which is a far cheaper option than pigmenting the entire product.”
Dulux and CSIRO are licensing the technology jointly around the world. The process already has attracted the interest of auto and furniture makers in Europe and China, Matthews said.