So Why Join Qualicoat?
As sustainability issues continue to take precedence in material specification for our new and refurbished buildings, QUALICOAT, a ‘not for profit’ organisation based in Zurich which now operates on all five continents around the globe, continues to push the boundaries of quality and durability in architectural powder coatings.
For the UK and Ireland, our association currently has 29 members who meet on a frequent basis to work together to continuously improve architectural powder coating standards. (see www.qualicoatuki.org). The QUALICOAT label provides credibility to the supply chain for architectural powder coating by offering ‘Approvals & Licences’ to the main industry players: powder manufacturers, chemical pre-treatment suppliers as well as the powder applicators.
One of the key USP’s for QUALICOAT is that the complete supply chain is independently inspected at regular intervals to ensure conformance with the standard. Applicators are subject to twice yearly random visits by an independent test house, currently IFO gmbh, to review their quality procedures, records and product performance.
What is little known, is that powders themselves can be supplied in various grades of durability to suit a project application. These premium powder compositions use more expensive and robust materials to offer life expectancies well beyond 30 years and often similar to the life expectancy of the building itself. QUALICOAT has created quantifiable powder performance classifications for architectural powder coatings. In Europe there are three distinct classes of performance - Class 1 , 2 & 3.
The key parameter to distinguish the performance of these Classes is their ‘weathering’ ability. That is to say, the ability to maintain a consistent colour and gloss level over time. To ‘weather’ well the coating must resist the deleterious effects of Light (in particular UVa & UVb), temperature and humidity. The globally accepted method for this ‘natural weathering’ test is conducted in Florida, USA. Sample panels are set for external exposure at a given angle 5° South. Powders are classified on the following performances:
Class 1 powders
Class 2 powders
Class 3 powders
The vast majority of powder coating undertaken in the UK and Ireland is ‘Class 1’. These powders are high quality and offer excellent weathering and life expectancy. All powder coatings, however, will age over time and using higher durability powders will ensure that the surface finish looks better for longer. There are an increasing number of projects and situations where such coatings are required by the specifier, for example on prestigious applications, or where there is a challenging environment such as exposed facades, industrial, or marine locations.
By specifying ‘QUALICOAT’, the method of pre-treatment and powder coat application of the powder classes is more tightly monitored and the chances of coatings failing due to corrosion or adhesion during its expected life are significantly reduced compared to coaters adopting non-controlled standards.
As a specifier, should higher durability finishes be required, contact a QUALICOAT member and discuss the project requirements in greater detail. Pretreatment and powder application is virtually the same for Classes 2 and 3, the only change is the formulation of the powder which uses enhanced resin systems and higher grade pigments and stabilisers.
The Zurich based QUALICOAT Secretariat ensures this quality label is applied consistently across the globe. Whether the contracts are specified in the UK, China, Germany or Australia, if QUALICOAT is part of the specification it will be understood and applied consistently.
The vast majority of high end powder coaters in the UK are now QUALICOAT approved and to ensure that specifiers get ‘QUALICOAT’ powder coating, we recommend just adding the name ‘QUALICOAT Approved’ to your material specifications.
So why join QUALICOAT?
Copies of the QUALICOAT Standard, now in its fourteenth edition, complete with amendments and updates, is freely available through the UK Association website, www.qualicoatuki.org, together with an up-to-date list of Powder Suppliers, Pretreatment Suppliers and Applicators. Printed literature and telephone support is available from QUALICOAT UK & Ireland’s Head Office in Birmingham on 0121 601 6746. You can also follow the association on Twitter @Qualicoat.
Qualicoat UK & Ireland Chairman