What Is Powder Coating? New Wheels For The S2000!

Hello, everyone and welcome! In this video we’re going to be learning all about powder coating. Now the only reason this video is possible is because incredibly a subscriber by the name of Erin Gallinger who happens to run a wheel repair and powder coating shop, noticed that my S2000 wheels were in pretty poor shape and had a set of AP1 wheels in his shop that he was willing to refinish for me so the S2000 would be looking clean. So a huge thank you to Aaron of phoenixrimrepair.com you can follow his work on his instagram handle @expressphoenix which I will of course include links to in the video description. Moving on to powder coating, this is a type of coating that uses a dry powder to apply a finish to a product whether that be a household appliance, car parts, or in this case AP1 S2000 wheels. Powder coatings tend to be tough hard and durable, which is why they’re commonly seen in automotive applications. So let’s walk through the process and learn about how this all works to start off the wheels go into an acid bath to strip any paint or clear coat off of the wheels. They need to be completely cleaned before the powder can be applied. With the wheels cleaned they are now prepped so that the surface is nice and smooth essentially grinding off any damage that’s on the wheels so they have a uniform smooth finish and look good any imperfections are removed so that once the wheels are coated they look as good as possible. An angle grinder is used to clean up any major damage and then a finer finishing sander is used to smooth out any of the larger scratches left behind from the angle grinder this is also used to soften any sharp edges for a more even powder coating the powder will sometimes pile up on sharp edges, due to the electrostatic field and sometimes it won’t properly flow out to cover the sharp edge. After all four wheels are smooth we move on to sandblasting. Sandblasting starts with the back of the wheel cleaning the hub area free of any debris, rust, whatever has accumulated on it over the years. Then moving out on to the spokes making sure you can see the part numbers and removing any road grime, then moving on to the outside edge of the wheel. Sandblasting is done to clean the wheel and it also roughens the surface a bit which allows for a nice bond with the powder coat and now we’re ready to get started on the powder coat so the final step before applying the powder is to spray the entire wheel down with compressed air and make sure the surface is completely cleaned off, no remaining sand left on the wheel or trapped in any of the grooves. This is where the cool stuff begins starting with the powder. The powder is a blend of polymers, pigments, and other ingredients which are mixed in a hopper. The hopper has a fluidizing plate at the bottom which flows air up through the powder keeping it in a liquid like state for application. Aaron is using his own self-made fluidizing hopper. Now looking at the powder coating gun on the front of it is a corona ring which is attached to ground and this captures any overcharged powder particles, so they don’t cause any disruptions on the wheel. Not every powder coating gun has a corona ring on the front of the gun you can see the X pattern tip for spraying powder which Aaron says he prefers as this allows for easier application into the faraday cage areas presented in the complexities of alloy wheels once removed you can see the electrode which charges the powder and then a white plastic sleeve around it which protects the powder gun from getting any cured powder inside of it this electrode tip operates up to 80,000 volts this high-voltage ionizes the air surrounding it meaning the surrounding air particles don’t have a matching number of protons and electrons in other words it creates a cloud or field around it with a charge there are different guns available some with the ability to provide negatively charged particles and some provide positively charged particles with Aaron’s powder gun the powder is forced through the ionized field using air pressure and then the powder picks up a positive charge as it passes through the wheel in this scenario is grounded as the charged powder particle moves through the air they head to the nearest ground which in this case is the wheel which the powder then sticks to Aaron mentioned that his equipment is somewhat antiquated in this video and that he uses a higher quality and much newer gun for clear powder top coats and glossy coatings but for my AP1 wheels being satin finish the older equipment is perfect for show quality results. Now the rod that you see the wheel is hanging from his copper, and this copper rod is connected to a ground rod. Which is solid metal coated in copper pounded eight feet down into the ground to ensure that the powder coat has a good ground to attract to essentially the gun sprays out charged powder particles the wheel acts as our ground and the powder sticks to the ground so he starts at the back of the wheel works his way around gets the side of the wheels going nice and slow and making the powder gets onto the wheel. The pressure the powder comes out is only about 2 to 5 PSI, so you’re really just allowing the powder to flow out and then letting that charge force the attachment with the wheel. Aaron then removes powder from the hub area and center bore so that the wheel fits on the car fine without any tolerance or clearance issues this also makes sure that the hub can sit flush if you leave powder on the back of the hub it can cure in a non uniform surface, so when you go to balance the wheels it won’t be as accurate as it should be and it can also create a safety Hazard where if you don’t remove that powder from the back of the hub if that cured powder flakes or falls off you now have a gap between your hub and the wheel meaning your lug nuts may no longer be tight enough and now you’ve got bigger problems where you have to worry about your wheel falling off in other words an important step not to skip. And the final step the wheels sit inside of an oven and cure for 10 minutes after the wheels have all reached 400 degrees Fahrenheit now this is where the conspiracy theories start to run wild on the internet about whether or not this curing process weakens the wheels in any way so I asked Aaron for his opinion on the subject he mentioned that while he has seen cases of straightening wheels and using heat to do it can cause wheels to be weakened he hasn’t noticed harm from the powder coat process. The process he uses is actually in line with other wheel makers and OEMs who have powder coat processes for example HRE wheels bake their wheels around 360 degrees while Prime wheel also has powder coatings which cure for 10 minutes at 400 degrees exactly like Aaron’s process. It also comes down to the initial quality of the wheel used as poorly cast aluminum wheels could be susceptible to weakening from the curing process versus much more robust higher quality wheels such as the OEM Enkei’s on the S2000. So hopefully this has been insightful, i’m super excited to get my tires swapped and get the new wheels on to the S2000 be sure to check out expressphoenix on Instagram and the links in the video description and of course a massive thank you to Aaron for hooking me up with these beautiful wheels. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below. Thanks for watching!