This article was originally written by me (@Tony) over on overclock.net, a forum I used to belong to and use to do a lot of powder coating for the members on there. This turned into a full time business after I made this article. The exact same methods can be used for automotive as well, and in fact, I will be firing up my powder coating adventure once again very soon for the S10 project. So stay tuned. But for now, this is the old article. I will make a new one when I get setup.
Hello everyone, I have searched on here and have noticed that people are paying quite a bit of money to have just the case powder coated. How would you like to know how to do it yourself? It's not near as hard as you are thinking it is. And, you can do a whole computer (after the purchase of the gun) for about $10, and that is a high figure.
The first thing that you need to do is go here and select the gun that you want. You can spend as little as $90 plus the powder of your choice, or just do it like I did and get the elite system that has some pretty good powder. It also comes with plugs, tape, wire and some other stuff that you will need. When you get it setup and use it quite a bit, it will look like this...
Then you need to get an oven. I use an old oven that I had in my house till I got my new glasstop range (shameless plug I know ). You can get a cheap one from just about anywhere and if it costs you $50 you paid too much. Here is what mine looks like, it's been used quite a bit. And that is powder that is on top of it.
Okay, you have the gun, powder and oven. You are ready to coat, hold up, you still need to clean the parts that you are going to coat. You have to get all the paint and stickers off of what you are going to coat. Remember that you are going to be sticking the parts in a 400* oven for 20 minutes after flow out (I will explain this later).
So, what is it that I use to clean the parts and get a great surface for the powder to attatch to? Why a sand blaster of course...
That little thing only costs $200 and I have used it more times than I ever thought I would. Now, lets start the coating process.
The first thing that you are going to have to do it take your parts out of whatever they are in. Here, I'm going to do the HDD cage and the PSU case. I'm going to do them in Black Wrinkle just cause I love that powder. So, lets start tearing things apart.
Here is a couple before pics of the inside of the computer.
Now take out your parts...
The only thing that I'm going to have to take apart is the PSU. PLEASE BE CAREFUL IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO THIS. THERE IS HIGH VOLTAGE IN THE CAPS EVEN AFTER IT'S UNPLUGGED. All you have to do it flip your switch to discharge the caps and you will be safe. Now, tear it apart.
It was time to take it apart anyway
You need to save this sticker, it keeps the caps from contacting the case and causing a fire by shorting out.
My kitty wondering what I'm doing to the new computer case, lol
Now you want to clean the finish off the outside of the case. I tried the sand blaster first but I couldn't tell the finish from the metal so I stuck them in the oven and "out gassed" them. I didn't really outgas them but that is the term when you are working with something like an intake manifold. This caused the finish to dull and I was able to see what I was blasting off.
And here they are all clean, but they still have sand powder on them, not good.
What you want to do now is get you some Nitrile gloves and wipe the parts down with Acetone. You want to use a lint free cloth for this as you want all "crap" off the part. Otherwise you will get fisheyes just like you would with paint.
Now we are clean and ready to spray some powder. Now, this stuff really is powder, and that is where it gets it's name. It's a plastic polymer that is charged with a + charge as it comes out of the gun. There is a ground clamp that you will want to clamp to the wire holding the case so that you have a ground. I use 20lbs of air pressure with the compressor on my setup, do not go over 35psi.
Here is a closeup of the powder that was just applied to the parts, looks like crap and is dull. You just have to trust me, lol.
Okay, now that we have the powder on the parts it's time for the oven. I'm going to sound like a cook now but preheat your oven to 400*. I put mine at 425* but don't ask why.
Oven is heated and ready for the parts...
Now, close the door and wait for it to "flow out". what is that you ask? Flow out is when the parts reach the temp to "flow" the powder. You will see the powder go from a powder, to a liquid. When this happens, set your timer for 20 minutes. don't worry if you go over a few minutes, there is an overbake in the powder to give you some leeway. here is what they look like about 5 minutes in. It flowed out really quick just cause the metal is thin. You can also see the powder starting to wrinkle a little.
20 minutes is up and they are done!!
Here are some pics of them coated. The great thing about powder is, once it's cool enough to touch, it's ready to go together. For thin parts like this, that is about 5 minutes.
Now, just put everything back together and you are done. I also painted the inside of my case flat black just to help with the new powder. That and I absolutely hate the color that it was.
You see, there is nothing to powder coating your computer. Give me a bit and I will have my entire case done. I didn't have time today to do it.
If you have any questions at all, let me know. I have started up and run a powder coating shop. The shop was not owned by me and there was a conflict with the owner and myself so I'm not there anymore but I still have a little knowledge left . Let me know what you think about the powder coating job as well .
Edit: There have been some people on here that asked where to get this stuff. Well, I thought I would post up all the links for just about anything that you would need for case modding. I have found a couple local companies that sell the same stuff as Eastwood so you may want to look around at your local tool dealers in the yellow pages.
The first thing that you will need is the gun as stated above. You need an oven as well but you will get that local. There are two places that you can get the gun and with two different prices. If you are wanting to just do a case a year or something, get the Eastwood gun. If you think your friends will want you to do there case's, then get the one from Caswell. You can adjust the voltage on the Caswell gun and it has a foot pedal for the power. The Eastwood has a hand button that you have to hold in order to apply voltage.
Here are the guns that Eastwood offers. You can start out with the cheaper guns, but the dual voltage will give you better results.
Here is the link to the powders on Eastwood. These powders are okay and it's what I used on the case just cause that is all I had.
Now for the blasting, I would suggest that just for shipping, you try to get them local as you can probably get a better deal. The one that I have I got local and it's the same one that you can get on Eastwood. This will give you an idea of what is out there before you go out and get one.
Here is the link to the blasting page on Eastwood. You can do anything from Sand blasting with sand, to walnut shells or you can even do Soda blasting. The last one is mainly for auto body and I can't really say anything about just because I have not tried it.
That is about it. I will leave you with a short vid so that you can have a littel better idea of what I did during the coating process.
Let me know what you think.
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