That is the question. Several of my steel sculptures have been
powder coated, while others have been left in their natural steel state to rust or patina. I have been asked several questions regarding why I’ve chosen to powder coat the sculptures, how does the process work and how long will the powder last. I chose to powder coat because I love the variety of awesome colors to choose from, especially the metallic colors. It provides the sculptures with an added richness that enhances their uniqueness to me. I personally am drawn to the color that enhances the designs and further draws my attention to the sculpture. I’m sure that others will disagree with me by preferring my sculptures in their natural state to rust or patina; which is fine if that is their preference. Should one want a commissioned sculpture by me, I do provide the choice of natural, paint or powder; it all depends on the art lover and their preference.
Now, what is powder coating, you ask? Powder coating is a surface finishing technique of applying dry paint to a metal surface, such as cars, rims, or metal art. The metal being powder coated is first cleaned using a variety of methods such as sandblasting or given a chemical bath to ensure that the powder will adhere to the surface. The powder is a thermosetting powder usually made up of polyester, epoxy, and acrylic resin combined with other compounds. The powders resemble fine grain dust that comes in a multitude of colors and textures. The thermosetting powder can be applied in two methods:
1. Dipped in a fluidized bed of powder that’s been electrostatically
2. Electrostatically charged powder is sprayed onto the
The coated part is then placed in a special oven where the powdered particles melt and coalesce into a continuous film.
Once the part is removed from the oven, it needs to be cured.
Curing time depends on the thickness of the powder and size of the object that was powder coated.
Powder coating provides a hard surface that is resistant to abrasions and is very tough. This technique is generally used to prevent corrosion of the metal. Prevention of corrosion is a key reason that I chose to use the powder coating method on some of my sculptures instead of painting. The sculptures can be placed outdoors and stand up to the variable weather changes from season to season. Paint has a tendency to chip while powder coating retains its elasticity leading to a more durable, scratch, chip and flake resistant product.
Will powder coating rust or how long will it last? That’s a very good question without a definitive answer. It depends. Depends on the conditions, how well the powder adhered to the piece and how the piece is going to be used. It may last for years or it may wear in a short period of time.
So what are your thoughts on powder coating, painting or neither? Share in the comments section.
As an artistic engineer, I want my creative spirit to inspire the viewer to think outside the box of their normal boundaries. I want viewers to interpret my artwork into whatever moves them beyond their normal boundaries to see what can be instead of just what is. I feel that abstract artwork does just that--move you beyond the normal. LJS