Friday, February 27, 2009

Industrial Colors and Powder Coating

Hi, I’m Jen, this is my first time posting. I’m one of J.W. Winco’s customer service associates. In the course of helping our customers find solutions to their design problems, I answer different interesting questions every day.

Like the other day, when the issue was color. Our GN 300 zinc die cast adjustable levers are available in a variety of colored powder coated finishes. A customer of ours purchases these levers in orange, silver, red and blue. He needed to know the precise color names so another component of the machines he builds could be produced to match, and he needed the Pantone system names.

Pantone is a system of color naming originated in 1963, that is commonly used in the graphic design, printing, textile and plastics industries. (Our most frequent blog poster, our marketing coordinator Diane, tells me that the Pantone color for J.W. Winco red is PMS 200...it’s used in all our marketing stuff.) It’s not unusual for a company to need components finished in colors that match their corporate colors, which generally are named using the Pantone system.

But in the industrial sector, colors are usually named using a different system. The color standards for our products, many of which are manufactured in Europe, are typically the RAL standard. This system was developed in Germany in 1925 by an organization called “Reichsausschuss für Lieferbedingungen” (boy, those Germans like long words), which means “Imperial Commission for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance.” Makes me want to say, “Alex, I’ll take ‘Color Standards’ for $200.”

I found this handy conversion chart that shows a number of RAL/Pantone equivalents. For example RAL 3027 is the equivalent of Pantone 200. Note though that there are not always precise equivalent from one system to the other. There are several other color naming systems in use, like Sweden’s NCS, Britain’s BS 4800 and BS 381C standards, and the U.S. federal standard known as FED-STD-595.

With metal machine components, the coloring is typically achieved using powder coating, like our GN 300 zinc die-cast levers. The powder is made of pigment and finely ground resins. The part to be coated will be electrically grounded, and an electrostatic spray gun is used to charge the powder as it is applied. After application, the part is heated to a temperature of 160-220 degrees C, which makes it a smooth, continuous coating.

Powder coating can be done in any color, so in large enough quantities, we can have components produced in custom colors. The other advantages are that powder coating is much tougher and more chip-resistant than paint, and doesn’t show any streaks.

Our red GN 300 adjustable lever is so attractive, it’s the “cover model” on our Product Overview Catalog, which you see in the upper right. It’s not precisely our beloved Pantone 200, but it’s really nice too.

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