Industry News

Chemistry is right between powder coating supplier and coater

Published on 2006-09-21. Author : SpecialChem

Münster/Mülheim a. d. Ruhr. -- The BASF Coatings powder coating is stored at a cool 20 degrees Celsius on coater Eupec GmbH's premises to ensure that it does not lose its functionality and quality. Depending on the coating variant, the steel pipes then have to be heated to 180 - 210 degrees Celsius, after which the corrosion-protection coating is applied externally and then melts. But it is not just the temperatures that are correctly matched with each other between BASF Coatings and Eupec - the excellent partnership is particularly evidenced in the large degree of commonality: innovative technologies and developments are important to both; they collaborate on these and also present a joint front to customers on the global pipeline construction market.

"If you want to keep pace with global business as a coating supplier, you have to be a supplier to Eupec. This has been the case for us since the earliest days, i.e. since 1992/93," declares Patrick Möller, Business Manager Protective Coatings at BASF Coatings. That is because Europipe, Eupec's parent company, is one of the world's major manufacturers of large-diameter pipes. So it is fitting that BASF Coatings is the coater's most important supplier: "Your powder coatings are of outstanding quality. At 1,200 tonnes, BASF Coatings is supplying the largest amount for 2006/2007," declares Jascha Jacobs, head of Eupec's Order Center.

The latest example of this excellent partnership is the construction of the 130-kilometer-long natural gas pipeline for National Grid Transco from Milford Haven to Aberdulais in Wales. This illustrates the global nature of the business: the powder coatings are produced in Verbania, Italy by BASF Coatings, and they are then applied to the pipes in the city of Mülheim in Germany's Ruhr industrial area. Once coated, the pipes are dispatched to Wales. Such a project calls for the close cooperation between the customer and supplier to be well organized. "Technicians and Sales staff from BASF Coatings regularly visit Eupec. We work very closely together in lab operations and sales. Some aspects of product development are also carried out jointly," comments Möller.

His task is then to coordinate the projects and maintain the contacts. The two companies complement each other with their know-how: the coating is resistant, features good adhesion, and always precisely matches the relevant product specifications. Eupec, for its part, ensures innovative coating methods - this works so well that the two companies also canvas customers jointly.

Once the right coatings have been supplied and stored, Eupec's professional engineering systems guarantee the perfect coating. A monolayer coating was chosen for the current project in Wales. For each coating method, the pipes first have to be blasted and then cleaned using deionized water in a high-pressure washing system. The 18-meter-long pipes are heated to 210 degrees Celsius by means of an induction coil, and the ends are then taped because they have to be welded later. Some 80 powder guns now ensure that the electrostatically charged powder coating is uniformly distributed on the pipes where it melts. Once the pipes have cooled down again, the testing stage follows: this involves testing the film thicknesses and the passive corrosion protection properties of the applied coating. Long-term properties are continually tested in particular by means of the hot water immersion test and cathodic disbondment test. This is where the strengths of an excellent partnership come to the fore. However, pore-free application of the powder coating is also extremely important. This is verified in the "holiday test". "The name could come from the fact that this is the last stage before coating of the pipes is complete and the pipes can be transported, after which the work is over for the staff," explains Jacobs. In this test the pipes are passed through a ring of radially mounted copper brushes across which a voltage of between 3,000 and 25,000 volts is applied, depending on the film thickness. The steel pipe is grounded which means that a short circuit occurs and is displayed on the instruments if there is even the smallest defect in the coating.

Source: BASF

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