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Thread: Powder coat finish concern

  1. #1
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    Powder coat finish concern

    With the powder coating process Tesla has announced to put the color and clear coat on the cars, how will an owner deal with a parking lot ding, a scratch or a dented panel? Your local body shop isn't going to be able to powder coat your door or fender or hood or whatever. How will an owner keep their paint looking nice?

  2. #2
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    Jan 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by Lush1 View Post
    With the powder coating process Tesla has announced to put the color and clear coat on the cars, how will an owner deal with a parking lot ding, a scratch or a dented panel? Your local body shop isn't going to be able to powder coat your door or fender or hood or whatever. How will an owner keep their paint looking nice?
    Powder-coated paint is really, really tough. Since Tesla is powder coating the clear coat (and the primer) I'd actually be more worried about the aluminum itself getting dented than the paint chipping.

  3. #3
    Lead Moderator Doug_G's Avatar
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    A friend of mine has a vintage Mercedes convertible that has aluminum body panels. He says it is pretty easy to dent, and pretty much impossible to fix once it is dented. Anybody here have experience with aluminum bodies?

  4. #4
    Senior Member roblab's Avatar
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    Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
    Seems I remember people worrying about being able to fix a ding when they started using clear coat, too. I betcha they have a matching color brush in a tube, just like all the other car makers have. Now, if you're going to repaint a bash instead of a ding, they usually match it to the nearest joint, and it probably won't need to be powder coat. The local auto body guys will just paint it.
    As to aluminum, I am more concerned with whether or not I will be able to massage it out a la paintless dent removal. Either way, bondo and a paintjob will probably fix it so you won't notice at 20 feet. (Hopefully better than that)

  5. #5
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    Mar 2010
    I wonder if you have to get pre-coated panels from Tesla if you have an accident. I wouldn't want a painted replacement fender on my otherwise powder coated car, would you?

  6. #6
    R#350 R#1323 Sig23 8136 NEWDL's Avatar
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    Jan 2009

    Alum. and Powder Coating

    First, a classic Mercedes with aluminum body panels tells you NOTHING about your model s. Modern aluminum is much stronger and reinforced than the classic Mercedes.

    Aluminum is softer so paintless dent removal will be easier.

    Powder coating panels is a good thing. A good body guy will be able to match just like any base/clear system. You will not need PC'd panels from Tesla for repair. This holds true for both blending a panel or shooting a whole panel.

  7. #7
    Senior Member tdelta1000's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
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    Here's what I found on power coating and repairing it:
    Powder coating repairs


    It should be realised that powder coating is a still paint. The difference between powder coating and wet painting is more to do with the application not the end product. It is susceptible to the same marketing pressures as any other product. The quality of the product is proportional to its price. Fading and gloss retention are two areas that are noticeable between the two price extremes. Windridge Coatings pays on average twice as much for the high quality powder it uses, compared to its cheapest equivalent.

    Repair, fading, blemishes and light scratches, to powder coating.
    Repair faded powder coating
    Faded powder coating means, the surface of the coating has oxidised. This is usually only the surface,
    (2-3 microns). By rubbing with cutting compound the surface will be removed and new paint exposed with its original colour. However, if the original coating was a matt finish it will now have been polished to a gloss.

    Repair light scratches and blemishes to powder coating.
    Scratches may be deeper than 2-3 microns. Use cutting compound to remove the powder coating down to the level at the bottom of the scratch. A fine rubbing down paper may speed up the process (800 to 400 grit, no coarser), but the job will need to be finished with cutting compound to remove the fine scratches left by the rubbing down paper.

    Cleaning prior to painting.
    The original paint needs to be clean prior to ‘touch up, or touching in’ repainting. Indoor components may have been polished with polishes containing Silicone. This will repel any further painting and must be removed from the local area. Clean the surface by washing with a detergent and a scotch-bright. ‘Multi Clean’ is specifically designed for cleaning material prior to painting. Thoroughly rinse and dry. If solvents are needed to remove marks, a soft cloth dampened with Isopropyl Alcohol may be used. Solvents containing esters, ketones, or chlorinated solvents must not be used without consultation with the paint manufacturer, as these are too aggressive and will melt the paint. A small discrete area should be tested first.

    Repair Powder.
    The surface contaminants may need to be removed by abrading with fine rubbing down paper ‘400 grit’.
    If the component has been damaged, causing chipping or cutting to the paint, the loose flakes should be removed. ‘Ugly steps’ where the paint has been chipped need to be feathered. Course rubbing down paper ’80 grit’ will do this faster, but it will leave noticeable scratches. Finer paper will produce better results, 250 grit paper is a good compromise, (this will wear smooth quickly, so replace it frequently).

    Primer preparation
    When the original paint edges have been rubbed down smooth and a step is not noticeable, remove the dust, apply a light coat of paint/primer, and allow it to dry. This will show how well the area has been prepared. Continue rubbing down and applying light coats, until the edges of the damaged paint have disappeared. Applied properly, at this stage all physical signs of repair can be lost.

    Do I need a primer?
    If the preparation has exposed the metalwork, for more than four square centimetres, then a primer should be used. A primer is good for filling defects, as it has a high concentration of solids, it will also dry more quickly than a topcoat.

    What type of primer?
    The primer needs to be a single pack paint (does not need a hardener), dries fast and is easy to rub down. Historically, we recommended using cellulose but it’s use is now restricted due to VOC emissions. This presents a problem, as most paints that do not fall foul of this legislation are not aggressive enough to melt into the powder. They will dry on it, making intercoat adhesion near non-existent.

    Easiest way to apply a primer.
    The simplest and quickest way to apply paint, including primer, is to use an aerosol. A tapered thickness with out brush marks can be applied, this is a thin coating on the extremities of the repair area, building up to a thick coating where the protection is required.

    Application technique for aerosol.
    Apply three very light coats and allow each to dry. When the surface has been covered with the new paint, heavier coats may be applied. Do not rush, as this will produce runs; allow two minutes between each coat. The aerosol should never be nearer than 150mm. Continue to move when spraying and keep the same distance from the work piece. Smooth strokes from side to side, covering the local area of damage. Start to move the aerosol before releasing the paint, and before the end of the stroke, stop releasing the paint. This should avoid ridges of paint at each end of the stroke.

    On a warm day, if each coat has been allowed to dry before the next application, it should be possible to rub the paint down after about 30 minutes. If it starts to ‘drag and ball’ the paint, leave it to dry further. It will now have to be rubbed right back to a smooth surface again, which may take another hour. More patience is required. (The thinner the coats of paint, the faster they will dry.)

    Types of paint.
    If a primer is not used then the paint must have an aggressive solvent that will melt its way into the powder coating. An indication of suitability is the speed it takes to dry. Household polyurethane, which takes 24 hours to harden, is not suitable. This will sit on the powder, instead of melting its way into it. The result is, it will peel off. It is always good practice to mechanically abrade a key by using rubbing down paper, or at least use a Scotchbrite. A small discrete area should be tested first.

    Windridge Coatings uses:
    Brantho Kurux 3 in 1:
    Is a liquid polyester, one of the most technically advanced resins available. It sticks very well to powder coatings and is easy and quick to apply. Can be applied by aerosol or brush for larger areas. On newly blasted steel, in a marine environment, it can be awarded a 15-year warranty.
    Advantages: Offers good protection, good thickness cover, does not need primer, reasonably quick drying.
    Disadvantages: Not all colours available, not readily available.

    Two pack polyurethanes
    Other paints are available, such as two pack polyurethanes. They adhere well to nearly anything, very good weather resistance. Not as user friendly, two pack paints need to be mixed on site, and then have a short application life. Contain cacogenic isocyanates.

  8. #8
    Senior Member vfx's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    CA CA
    Aren't all cars "powdercoated"?There is a TV show called Ultimate Factories that covers all sorts of car production lines. Most all negatively charge the car frames and spray dry paint that sticks to the cars electrostatically. I have thought that was the definition of powder coating.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2010
    That is indeed powder coating and applies to frames perhaps. I haven't heard of any cars having the colored body panel powder coated. Tesla claims to be the first car company to do this to the body panels.

  10. #10
    Senior Member roblab's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
    What I read in the blog about the new factory
    is that there are TWO powder coats, the primer and the clear coat. It is possible that all coats are powder based.
    There is also a complete dipping stage before the primer, with electrostatic paint attraction.
    It looks like many powder paints can be water based, and are most often applied electrostatically
    DuPont has a good short primer on paints and applications.
    Well worth a minute, and explains what Tesla and most other companies are probably doing.

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