Powder coating choices expand creative freedom

Richard Besant, Sales Director at Powdertech (Corby), discusses how powder coatings are extending creative opportunities for architects and designers.

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material choice

Materials, whether traditional, modern, artificial or natural, are the ingredients of architecture and interior design. Their creative use can have the most dramatic or subtle effect giving a unique identity to the building.

All construction materials have their pros and cons. Selection depends on many factors in addition to appearance, including structural properties, planning and environmental considerations, availability and budget.

The building material of the modern age is aluminium. It is the second most widely specified metal in buildings after steel and used in all construction sectors from commercial buildings to domestic dwellings. The benefits of using aluminium are numerous and include durability, strength-to-weight ratio and sustainability. It is ductile, durable and non-toxic. Through the vision of an architect or designer, aluminium can give free rein to creativity, making it possible to create structures that cannot be made from wood, steel, plastics or expensive alternatives.

Steel and aluminium are popular construction materials offering, in various degrees, the advantages of high strength, low weight, design freedom, recyclability and prompt availability. A common benefit is that they can both be powder coated which can further extend their application to offer a credible alternative to other construction materials.

Powder coatings widen the choice

Powder coating technology has advanced well beyond being an alternative to wet paint; coatings can transform metals into alternatives for other construction materials in a response to the need for greater flexibility.

A weighty issue

Stone looks undeniably beautiful on a building, yet stone is not only expensive, it’s also heavy. Due to weight or span restriction, it cannot always be used where the designer would like to see it used. Bring together aluminium and its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, with new powder coatings that are coloured and textured to resemble stone and the problem is solved. Aluminium is strong, light and it’s not affected by moisture and discolouration. Powdertech’s Landscape range has many shades that resemble different types of stone and other elements of the natural landscape. Beauty and the budget

Stunning effects in architecture and design need not be costly. Powder coatings on aluminium, or steel, can be used to create beautiful effects. Coatings that resemble metals in their natural form are a recent and exciting development. Aged copper is an obvious example. The beautiful verdigris patina caused by metal oxidation is a particularly expensive design feature and may not meet sustainability criteria. Aluminium is highly abundant and up to 95% recyclable – even when powder coated. Evolution is a Powdertech collection of over 70 shades, inspired by traditional metals and natural materials. Aged copper, bronze, iron and flint are amongst these.

Anodised colours can be achieved using standard-grade aluminium plus Powdertech’s Anomatch collection. Powder-coated effects are more consistent in shade than anodising and have a comparable design life. Anomatch finishes can be applied to steel to further increase finishing options.

Logistical cost savings

Lightweight powder-coated metals mean lower transportation costs. Maintenance costs are relatively low and repairs are easy and inexpensive. Powder-coated articles are not delivered to site until needed, reducing the risk of damage and inventory loss. Ideal for off-site construction and just-in-time ordering, powder-coated aluminium saves further costs.

Making the environment a priority

As a sustainable building material, aluminium beats all others. Powder coating contributes to environmental credibility with virtually no VOCs or halogens. Powdertech also operates a chrome-free pre-treatment system. There is no hazardous waste from application, and the process recycles much of the powder. Aluminium does not burn and powder coatings meet current fire, smoke and toxicity regulations.

Wood can be replaced with aluminium or steel, powder coated with Powdertech Wood Finish (PWF), matching natural wood with variation in colour, grain density and grain pattern. Depletion of expensive wood resources is avoided, together with significantly reduced maintenance costs.

Flexibility in design

Powder coat finishes are just 100 microns (0.1mm) thick and in many cases do not affect the design flexibility of the base metal which lends itself to enormous creativity.

Coated metal can be sawn, drilled, riveted, screwed bent or welded. Design flexibility is retained, whether the aluminium has been coated in a stone-shaded Landscape, PWF, Anomatch or Evolution finish. There is no loss of functionality of the coated metal and its resistance to corrosion, humidity and abrasion is guaranteed.

Planning and conservation can be satisfied

Designing a building that complements its surroundings is a factor often stipulated by planning authorities and conservationists. The original materials may be too costly, heavy or difficult to fabricate. Metal, powder coated to appear like wood, stone or other metals, can satisfy the designer’s vision with the requirements of planners and conservationists.

Powder coating can free designers and architects from structural, budgetary and environmental restrictions and allow them to realise their creative vision.

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