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Back Ionization: What it is and How to fix it

by Eric | Published September 11, 2013

Back Ionization is a problem in powder coating that occurs when the powder particles can’t find a ground point of the part’s surface and as a result build up unevenly on other particles on the part’s surface, this is often times referred to as “starring” or a “star burst effect”. As the powder then continues to build up unevenly, it insulates the grounded surface of the part, causing a rough looking texture in the powder’s uncured state. Once the powder is cured, the back ionization then causes an “orange peel” type texture on the part, an undesirable look in almost all scenarios. The back ionization effect is more typical when applying a second coat on a part, but can happen when applying first coats as well.

Here are some tips on how to avoid back ionization:

  • Lower your voltage setting: This is the easiest step in avoiding back ionization; however you must always be careful when lowering the voltage (Kv), as it may cause further issues like unacceptable penetration and/or coverage. KCI Powder Coating Equipment has factory pre-sets which automatically adjusts the voltage and current for this situation.
  • Coating from a proper distance: This seems to be the most common reason that back ionization occurs, when the gun is too close to the part that you are coating. Make sure to always coat from the proper distance, and then maintain that distance at all times. Many times this correlates directly with how the part or parts are hung on the hook/part rack. Make sure that the part is stable and not swinging, as this makes it near impossible to maintain the proper coating distance. In instances where the gun must be held closely to the part, it is necessary to adjust the current to compensate for this. KCI Powder Coating Equipment has a factory setting for this as well.
  • Use an Ion Collector: A grounding ring or some other form of ion collector can be used as a ground source to reduce the rough surface effect. These are installed just behind the electrode tip and their purpose is to capture any unused ions from the charging process that can cause the uneven texture by overloading the surface with already deposited powder.

Give us a call at 888-647-9929 and we will assist you with this problem or any other issues that you may have with your current powder coating system!