With the help of a powder coating consultant and partnering with a major powder manufacturer, Serra was able to increase production and decrease the dollar amount of rejected parts.

Powder coated part showing typical defective areas.
For the past five years, Serra has been working with a client whose project requires an “A-class” finish from powder coating. Prior to the technological changes in the powder coatings industry, this class of finish was unusual. In addition, a tremendous amount of research was required to achieve the properties of the coating, as well as its class-A status.

Serra found that when powder coating was applied over galvanneal (zinc-coated) material, an increasing number of blemishes were found, including fisheyes. Fisheyes are caused by outgassing: the release of gasses from the zinc-coated metal as the part is baked in the powder coating process. This outgassing caused a rejection rate well above the norm, also creating a major problem due to the customer’s request for perfect parts.

To help the company identify and solve its powder coating dilemma, Serra enlisted the services of a professional powder coating consultant. The consultant offered new information that pointed out problems in Serra’s methods of manufacturing, which contributed to the overall rejection of parts. For example, inspection of incoming material was not as exacting as it could have been, parts were not properly cleaned of dust or contaminants, and lubricants used in the manufacturing process were creating a major portion of the rejections. Again, this opened up discussion that went beyond the outgassing problem that was already known.

At the recommendation of the consultant, Serra began using water-soluble brake fluid, instead of traditional oils, to provide the punching operations of the parts with the proper lubrication. The brake fluid would allow for a more efficient cleaning operation prior to the parts being powder coated; normal oils tend to absorb more into the surface of the galvanneal. It was also recommended that Serra inspect and clean the press brakes more often. By cleaning the tools on the press brakes, the zinc residue that is left on the tool cannot reattach itself to other parts, which causes an excess build-up of zinc on the bends. With that additional zinc on the bends, there was a greater chance of outgassing.

In addition, Serra worked directly with Tiger Drylac to create an outgas-forgiving formula. Tiger Drylac, based in Austria, is one of the largest powder manufacturers, supplying to companies throughout the world. The outgas formula was created specifically for Serra to deal with the problem of powder coating galvanneal material. The formula provides for longer cure times and lower temperatures, allowing the gas to penetrate the coating while it is still in a gel form. This results in a reduction in the number of fisheyes in the cured powder coating. This special formula was created to provide the exact finish that the customer required.

As a result of its increased efforts, Serra was able to dramatically drop the dollar amount of losses from rejected parts, decreasing from well over $80,000 a year to just $1,500. Not only has the company reduced its losses, but customers have seen superior product.

Carl Ruffenach inspecting power coated panels prior to shipment to customer.
Serra-Enterprise Division, established in 1971, is a precision metal fabrication company that makes components as sophisticated as surgical tools and as broad ranging as automotive and aerospace products. The Enterprise Division, which is a member of the Serra Corp., comprises over 126,000 square feet of state-of-the-art manufacturing and engineering capabilities.

The division’s contract manufacturing capabilities include Stamping (short run and production volume), Wire EDM, Production Machining (milling and turning), Tool & Die Making, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Welding, Spot Welding, and Assembly.

Some of the metal products manufactured at Serra’s Enterprise Division include lighting fixtures; large truck brake and cooling components in the automotive industry; surgical implants and surgical tools for the medical industry; portable air-conditioner panels and other components in the commercial appliance industry; fluid control valves and components; parts for satellites in the telecommunications industry; chassis and metal enclosures for the electronics industry; and landing gear components, engine components and window frames for the aerospace industry.

Through Serra-Enterprise Division’s diversity in capabilities and industries served, customers’ projects can be taken from prototype to full production within a short time frame. The division is designed to allow customers the ability to source multi-faceted projects with one company that can do it all. Products that also require outside processes, such as powder coating, plating or anodizing, are no problem for Serra-Enterprise Division to handle, with their reliable network of approved suppliers for each of these specific needs.

In today’s world of manufacturing, quality, on-time delivery, and service are all crucial. Serra-Enterprise Division scores high marks with all three. Employee training and development, technology and teamwork are ongoing and highly regarded within the company, to ensure that they stay on the cutting edge of manufacturing products in the most efficient manner possible.