Gateway Extrusions in Union, MO, started up operation of a new vertical powder coat paint finishing line, following installation and testing. The new system enables the company to process longer profiles more efficiently than its previous horizontal paint line, as well as expanding the array of markets it serves.
“Many customers need the longer profile lengths and with this state-of-the-art powder coating line, we can deliver faster and with greater quality the finished extrusion products our customers want and need,” said Tom Ziegler, president of Operations for Gateway Extrusions. “The new vertical paint line allows Gateway to handle lineals up to 25 ft, compared with 18 ft with our old equipment.”
Gateway’s new paint equipment, acquired after extensive research, represents a collaboration between several notable suppliers to provide the entire system. “We were very impressed with the innovation, engineering, and customization our suppliers brought to this project,” said Ziegler. “They worked together very effectively to bring our new equipment online, on budget and ahead of schedule.”
The profile handling equipment, which includes the conveyors, pre-treatment booth, dry-off oven, and infrared pre-warming and powder paint bake ovens, was supplied by ABD Equipment Company, based in China.
Bulk Chemicals of Reading, PA designed the chrome-free pre-treatment wash system to minimize chemical usage and maximize the effectiveness of cleaning and preparing the surface of the aluminum profiles to accept the powder paint. The supplier customized its pre-treatment solutions to work very effectively with ABD’s waterfall application system.
International manufacturer Gema of Switzerland supplied the powder application equipment, including the vertical track spray gun array and automation software to control paint application. The Gema guns use an electro-magnetic field to sense the aluminum profiles in order to charge the powder paint in real-time, ensuring a highly effective and optional finishing application.
Both Sherwin Williams and PPG supply the powder paint, formulated specifically for the new equipment. All Gateway extrusions are finished to meet AAMA 2604 durability performance criteria, and the higher performance standard of AAMA 2605 is also available with the new paint line.
According to Gateway Extrusions the new vertical powder coat paint system offers many advantages. It provides more efficient application of powder, with greater consistent overall coverage and minimal waste. Gateway has increased throughput two to three times over its previous horizontal paint line, running one shift with ten employees, compared to two shifts with 16 employees on the old line. This has significantly improved productivity and enabled the company to reassign employees to other areas where they are needed. The system also allows for rapid color changes to minimize downtime and overspray. Following paint application, extrusions pass through a two-stage drying oven, where the metal pieces are warmed in an infrared oven before entering the bake oven. This results in a harder finish than a single-stage bake oven.
Gateway’s paint line is designed with environmental sensitivity as well as effectiveness. The powder reclamation system is engineered for high efficiency. The powder coating booths are equipped with rolling curtains and engineered vacuum chambers that ensure maximum powder re-utilization, with minimal waste. The paint line also features a state-of-the-art real-time water management system to maintain pH levels, outflow rate, and temperature to ensure all local environmental requirements are continuously met.
Installation of the new equipment required the construction of a new 50 ft high building addition to Gateway’s existing facility to accommodate the vertical components of the system. Removal of the old paint line equipment and creation of a new shipping area in the front of the factory allows a more efficient flow of materials and products through the building. The overall investment in new plant and equipment was several million dollars.
The new vertical paint line is part of a multi-phase expansion plan for Gateway. In 2015, Gateway purchased its 129,000 sq ft production plant that it had been leasing in the Union Industrial Park, as well as adjacent properties. The company also purchased a new 7 inch extrusion press to upgrade existing equipment, followed by the purchase and installation of a second press to accommodate 9-inch extrusions a year later. Future plans include construction of new office space, additional exterior driveways, paved parking areas, and new landscaping.