With the help of his maskant supplier, EPSI, Menomonee Falls, Wis., and a trial-and-error approach, Lillicrap says he has the perfect recipe to create some "wicked designs." He says the biggest challenge when designing graphics is that the piece is always hot. He says that sometimes he incorporates a cool-down cycle, but with EPSI's A12 type of tape, which is designed to work on top of powder coating, often times the part is still hot. "And when coating is hot - whether you are coating it for the first time or reheating it - it is very susceptible and delicate." This could be the reason, he says, that many people do not succeed when trying to replicate his proprietary coating process. "If you do not do it correctly," he says, "you end up ruining your finish by burning the masking into the existing coating." He does divulge that in addition to the A-12 tape, he also uses EPSI's A35, K12 and K22 models. "These work the best for my powder coating applications," he says.
As for the type of coating that Wicked Designs uses, Lillicrap says he only uses powder, and the colors his customers pick tend to be polyesters. The image is created right into the powder coating. "No one else does what we can do with powder. Some people use vinyl graphics or stickers. I have not seen anyone that can replicate what we can do," Lillicrap says. His coatings of choice include Columbia Coatings super TGIC, and NIC Industries' Prismatic Powders polyurethane and polyester powders.
Because Lillicrap's approach is somewhat unconventional and safety is important to him, he and his employee wear 3M respirators. Good lighting is also key. And, of course, he says, you want to use common sense. "The oven floor is hot, so don't walk across it," he says.
Lillicrap says he owes a big thank you to Jim and Tom at Buckeye Custom Coatings in Lima, Ohio. "They are probably one of the few powder coating companies that works with me instead of against me," he says. "If they have smaller stuff that needs to be coated, they send it to us and if we get larger stuff, we send it to them." The two companies share information on what works best because they are "doing the same thing for different clients."
Lillicrap says he is starting to coat glass, too. Currently he is in the market for trying coatings that are made specifically for this purpose.
To contact Wicked Designs, call 937-214-7647, or visit www.wickedpowder.com.
For more information about the suppliers mentioned in this article, they can be contacted as follows: EPSI, 866-275-3774, www.epsi.com; Nordson Corp., 440-985-4000, www.nordson.com; Wagner Systems Inc., 800-473-2524, www.wagner-systems.com; NIC Industries, 541-826-1922, www.nicindustries.com; Columbia Coatings, 866-388-7730, www.columbiacoatings.com; 3M, 888-364-3577, www.mmm.com.