Thermally-efficient and fully recyclable aluminium fenestration systems score highly in terms of sustainability and thanks to advances in powder coating technologies, aluminium can be so much more than a ‘green’ material. In our latest blog, we look at the advantages of powder coated aluminium.
The powder coating process
The benefits that powder coating brings range from creating bespoke designs and adding aesthetic appeal to extending the already impressive lifespan of aluminium by protecting it from the elements. But how does it work?
Rather than a liquid paint, powder coating is just that – a dry powder that is essentially ‘baked’ onto prepared aluminium profiles. This process usually involves the bars being secured on a line, where they are pre-treated, degreased, acid etched and covered in an undercoat of chromate rinse to protect the material from corrosion. The bars are then taken into a drying oven before being transported on the line to a powder booth where charged powder particles cover the prepared aluminium profiles. Following this, the powder coating is ‘baked’ onto the profile to provide the final finish.
Efficiency starts with the right supplier
As powder coating can be an energy-intensive process, it’s prudent to consider the embedded carbon and the wider cost implications. The more advanced powder coating facilities available, such as our own in-house facility, have been designed to be as efficient as possible, and specifically to reduce the amount of waste product being sent to landfill. As we can undertake all powder coating ourselves without the need to outsource, we can also help reduce the embedded carbon through transportation by consolidating deliveries, all the while reducing the risk by making it easier to adhere to project timelines and budgets.
Maximising maintenance cycles
Aluminium fenestration systems are already extremely durable and require little or no maintenance but powder coating can offer extra protection to projects located in more challenging environments like coastal projects or those that have greater exposure to abrasive chemicals such as in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. New advances in powder coating finishes can also help protect against UV damage and antimicrobial options are available to help boost hygiene and cleanliness.
Find your perfect match
Powder coating is also a creative process. Specifiers can take advantage of the latest trends and innovations, with decorative and textured finishes available to create truly individual designs.
The range of colours available is important, so look for a supplier that can offer both the full spectrum of RAL colours and create more bespoke colour palettes. This variety is essential for both the retail and commercial sectors where there is often a desire to create strong brand identities and match corporate colours. Dual colour options to create a different look for the exterior and interior surface of the frames are also very effective. As well as adding aesthetic value to the exterior facades, the use of contrasting colours internally can play a vital role in assisting wayfinding around buildings, which is an important consideration for many new education and healthcare projects.
Choosing the level of finish also requires careful consideration, with matt, satin, and gloss all having different visual and practical benefits. For example, a flat matt finish may not be as easy to clean as high-gloss surfaces but it will better disguise any imperfections. As the sheen levels of the chosen finish will also affect the specific Light Reflective Values of the glazing package, it’s important to discuss with your supplier to identify the most suitable solution for your project.
We are always keen to embrace innovation in all aspects of our operations, and our in-house powder coating service is no exception. For example, customers are often unsure if anodised or powder-coated aluminium is more appropriate for their project and if a more natural finish is desired, anodised aluminium usually wins. However, the finish of anodised aluminium can sometimes be inconsistent in terms of shading and tone. The anodising process also doesn’t protect the edges of the aluminium frame in the same way that powder coating does and unfortunately, anodised aluminium can’t easily be repaired or ‘touched up’ on site.
Fortunately, we can now offer a new powder paint finish from Akzo Nobel that offers the best of both worlds. The new ultra matt finish can achieve the same aesthetic appeal of anodised aluminium but with better consistency, particularly between joints, and the added bonus of allowing marks and scuffs to be repaired on site. It can offer enhanced durability, with up to five times more colour retention than standard coatings, and is also competitively priced. The ultra matt coating can also help reduce embedded carbon, as it is a far less time intensive process, produces less waste and is completely solvent-free. Our aluminium fenestration systems, finished in this new ultra matt coating, are currently being installed at a new commercial office project in Manchester which is at present the largest live project in the UK to utilise this new powder-coating innovation. We’ll be sharing more details about this project very soon!
Can we help?
In the meantime, why not get in touch with us to find out more about how our in-house powder coating service can enhance the aluminium fenestration package on your next project? Find your regional contact here.