There are several advantages of powder coating over conventional liquid coatings:
Powder coatings emit zero or near zero volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Powder coatings can produce much thicker coatings than conventional liquid coatings without running or sagging.
Powder coating overspray can be recycled and thus it is possible to achieve nearly 100% use of the coating.
Powder coating production lines produce less hazardous waste than conventional liquid coatings.
Capital equipment and operating costs for a powder line are generally less than for conventional liquid lines.
Powder coated items generally have fewer appearance differences between horizontally coated surfaces and vertically coated surfaces than liquid coated items.
A wide range of specialty effects is easily accomplished which would be impossible to achieve with other coating processes.
While powder coatings have many advantages over other coating processes, there are limitations to the technology. While it is relatively easy to apply thick coatings which have smooth, texture-free surfaces, it is not as easy to apply smooth thin films. As the film thickness is reduced, the film becomes more and more orange peeled in texture due to the particle size and TG (glass transition temperature) of the powder. Also powder coatings will break down when exposed to uv rays between 5 to 10 years.
For optimum material handling and ease of application, most powder coatings have a particle size in the range of 30 to 50 μm and a TG > 40°C. For such powder coatings, film build-ups of greater than 50 μm may be required to obtain an acceptably smooth film. The surface texture which is considered desirable or acceptable depends on the end product. Many manufacturers actually prefer to have a certain degree of orange peel since it helps to hide metal defects that have occurred during manufacture, and the resulting coating is less prone to show fingerprints.
There are very specialized operations where powder coatings of less than 30 micrometres or with a TG < 40°C are used in order to produce smooth thin films. One variation of the dry powder coating process, the Powder Slurry process, combines the advantages of powder coatings and liquid coatings by dispersing very fine powders of 1–5 micrometre particle size into water, which then allows very smooth, low film thickness coatings to be produced.
Powder coatings have a major advantage in that the overspray can be recycled. However, if multiple colors are being sprayed in a single spray booth, this may limit the ability to recycle the overspray.