What is involved in the process of applying Cerakote ceramic coatings?
The design phase of Cerakote application is a meticulous process that merges cutting-edge technology and artistic vision. Starting with computer graphics software, designers create intricate patterns, textures, or custom artwork that perfectly align with the client’s preferences. Utilizing a vinyl plotter, the digital designs are meticulously cut into stencils, ensuring precise and consistent reproduction. The use of color swatch rings assists in selecting the desired Cerakote shades, allowing for seamless integration with the overall design concept. This thoughtful combination of computer graphics, precision cutting, and color exploration culminates in a carefully crafted blueprint that serves as the foundation for transforming firearms, automotive parts, or other objects into personalized masterpieces, harmonizing aesthetics and functionality in perfect harmony.
The disassembly of a firearm or other gear and separation of its parts is a crucial step in the process of applying different Cerakote products, enabling meticulous customization and enhanced aesthetics. With meticulous care, the firearm is carefully dismantled, ensuring each component is methodically isolated for individual treatment. This disassembly not only facilitates easy access to every nook and cranny but also ensures thorough and even coating application. Each group of parts is meticulously organized, grouped together, and prepared for their respective Cerakote products, which may include different colors, textures, or finishes. This meticulous separation of parts allows for precise customization and ensures that each component receives the attention it deserves, resulting in a harmonious and striking final product that reflects the owner’s unique style and attention to detail.
The selection of Cerakote products from multiple rings of swatches is an exciting process that involves careful consideration of color, sheen, and the appropriate application for each part. With a wide array of color options available, enthusiasts and professionals can explore the swatch rings, comparing shades, hues, and effects to find the perfect combination that aligns with their vision. Additionally, selecting the desired sheen, such as matte, satin, or gloss, adds another layer of customization. During this selection process, the expertise and knowledge of experienced applicators come into play, as they analyze the functional requirements of each part and determine the ideal coating to be applied. Factors like wear resistance, heat resistance, or specific environmental conditions influence these decisions. With a keen eye for detail, the appropriate Cerakote product is matched to each part, ensuring that the final result showcases both aesthetics and performance, bringing the owner’s vision to life in a stunning and functional manner.
Even knowing what parts NOT to coat comes into play. Setting expectations with regards to tolerances and free-movement all play a part in determining the best coating for your gear.
Mechanical removal of pre-existing finish
The process of removing a previous finish or powder coating involves the use of pneumatic or electric tools, offering efficient and precise stripping capabilities. Utilizing the power of compressed air or electricity, these tools are equipped with abrasive attachments, such as sanding discs, wire brushes, or abrasive wheels, that effectively strip away the existing coating. The operator carefully maneuvers the tool over the surface, applying controlled pressure to remove the coating layer by layer. This method ensures that the underlying material remains intact while effectively eliminating the previous finish. The process may require multiple passes and varying grit sizes to achieve the desired level of removal and surface preparation, readying the object for the subsequent coating or refinishing steps. With the aid of pneumatic or electric tools, the process of removing previous finishes or powder coatings becomes efficient, enabling precise restoration or transformation of objects with optimal results.
The process of degreasing firearms made of steel, aluminum, and polymer in preparation for the sprayed application of Cerakote involves meticulous cleaning to ensure optimal adhesion and durability of the coating. Using specialized solvents or degreasers, the surfaces of the firearms are thoroughly cleaned, removing any traces of oils, lubricants, or contaminants that could hinder the bonding process. Careful attention is given to each material: steel surfaces are cleansed to eliminate rust or oxidation, aluminum surfaces are treated to remove any corrosion or oxidation, and polymer surfaces are carefully degreased to promote adhesion. This rigorous degreasing process ensures a clean and pristine surface, providing the ideal foundation for the sprayed application of Cerakote, resulting in a long-lasting and visually stunning finish that enhances both the appearance and performance of the firearms.
The process of sandblasting parts in preparation to apply Cerakote involves the use of high-pressure abrasive media to achieve optimal surface texture and adhesion. The parts are carefully arranged in a controlled environment, and a sandblasting machine is utilized to propel abrasive particles at high velocity onto the surfaces. The appropriate PSI (pounds per square inch) is selected based on the material being blasted: for steel, a typical PSI range is 60-80, while for aluminum it is usually around 40-60, and for polymer materials, a lower PSI of 20-40 is recommended to avoid damage. The abrasive media, such as aluminum oxide or garnet, effectively removes any existing coatings, rust, or imperfections, leaving behind a clean, textured surface that promotes better bonding of the Cerakote coating. The sandblasting process ensures excellent surface preparation, allowing for superior adhesion and durability of the Cerakote finish.
High Temperature Gassing Out
The process of “gassing out” metal parts to reveal hidden and trapped oils in preparation for applying Cerakote involves utilizing an oven to induce expansion and release the trapped oils. The metal parts are placed in the oven and subjected to controlled heating at specific temperatures. As the temperature rises, the metal expands, causing the trapped oils within the pores and crevices to be released and brought to the surface. This process effectively “gasses out” the oils, making them more accessible for subsequent removal. Once the oils have been released, the parts are carefully cleaned to eliminate any residual contaminants, ensuring a pristine surface ready for the application of Cerakote. The process must often be repeated multiple times removal all residual oils. This essential step helps achieve optimal adhesion and ensures a flawless finish that is both visually appealing and long-lasting.
The process of racking parts for spraying involves careful organization and positioning of the parts to be coated, ensuring efficient and effective application of Cerakote. Racking typically involves the use of specialized fixtures or racks designed to securely hold the parts during the spraying process. Parts are strategically placed on the racks, considering factors such as size, shape, and accessibility for thorough coating coverage. Proper spacing between parts is maintained to prevent interference and ensure even coating application. The racks are designed to allow easy rotation or manipulation of the parts, enabling the applicator to reach all angles and surfaces effortlessly. Additionally, attention is given to hanging points or contact areas to minimize any potential marking or damage to the parts. The process of racking parts for spraying is a crucial step in achieving consistent and professional results, maximizing efficiency and ensuring the optimal adhesion and appearance of the Cerakote coating.
The process of designing, printing, and applying stencils in preparation for spraying parts with Cerakote involves a meticulous and artistic approach to achieve desired patterns and effects. First, the design phase begins, where custom patterns or artwork are created digitally using graphic design software. Once the design is finalized, it can be printed onto stencil material using a specialized printer or plotter. The stencil material is carefully selected for its durability and adhesive properties.
After printing, the stencils are meticulously cut out to create the desired shapes and designs. The precision cutting is crucial to achieve clean edges and seamless transitions in the final result. The stencils are then applied to the parts to be coated, ensuring they adhere firmly and securely.
In the case of achieving camo patterns on firearms and hunting gear, multiple layers of stencils are necessary. Each layer represents a specific part of the pattern, such as different colors or shapes. The layers are applied sequentially, with each stencil covering specific areas while leaving other parts exposed. By layering the stencils in a precise manner and applying the desired colors or coatings, the desired camo pattern is gradually built up, resulting in a realistic and intricate finish.
This multi-layer stencil approach allows for precise control over the design, enabling customization and achieving complex camo patterns. The process demands patience, attention to detail, and skill to ensure proper alignment and registration of the stencils for each layer, ultimately creating stunning and personalized finishes on firearms and hunting gear with Cerakote.
During the spraying phase of applying Cerakote, several key factors come into play. The sprayer used should be appropriate for fine finishes, such as HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) or LVLP (Low Volume Low Pressure) sprayers, to ensure precise control and atomization. The distance between the sprayer and the object being coated is typically maintained at around 6-8 inches to achieve an even and consistent application. The sprayer is moved in a methodical manner, ensuring complete coverage of the surface while avoiding excessive buildup or pooling. Metallic and non-metallic coatings each have their considerations, with metallic coatings requiring careful attention to achieve an even distribution of metallic flakes, while non-metallic coatings offer more flexibility. It’s crucial to adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding cure times, temperature, and number of coats for optimal results. Proper technique, attention to detail, and following the specific instructions contribute to achieving a high-quality Cerakote finish that showcases desired aesthetics and durability.
Unlike other finishes, Cerakote goes on very thin. Properly applied, Cerakote weighs in at just 1 to 2 mil thickness. This compares to an average of 10 mil thickness of powder coating. In many situations, coating thickness is immaterial and so powder coating is an awesome product. But when tolerances are tight and weight matters, Cerakote ceramic coatings truly shine.
After spraying the parts with Cerakote, it is essential to set them aside in a controlled environment to allow for consistent color-match and optimal drying before baking. The parts are carefully arranged or placed on racks, ensuring they are positioned in a manner that minimizes contact or interference to avoid smudging or damage to the freshly applied coating. They are then left undisturbed for a specified period, typically referred to as the “flash time,” which allows the coating to partially dry and adhere to the surface.
During this waiting period, it is important to maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level in the environment to prevent any variations that could affect the color or drying process. This controlled environment helps ensure that all the parts dry uniformly, minimizing any potential discrepancies in color or texture between them.
Once the appropriate flash time has elapsed and the coating has adequately dried, the parts are ready for the baking process. The baking temperature and duration will depend on the specific Cerakote product being used and should be followed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
By setting the parts aside after spraying and before baking, the consistent color-match of the parts is better preserved. This meticulous approach helps ensure a visually harmonious final result when the parts are subjected to the baking process and undergo the curing stage, resulting in a durable, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing finish.
The process of baking sprayed parts is crucial for the full curing of ceramic coatings like Cerakote. Once the parts have been sprayed and given an appropriate flash time, they are placed inside specialized industrial ovens designed specifically for this purpose. These ovens are equipped with features that facilitate the curing process and ensure consistent and controlled heat distribution.
The parts are carefully arranged on racks or hangers inside the oven, allowing sufficient space for proper airflow and heat circulation. The oven is then heated to the specified temperature recommended by the Cerakote manufacturer. This temperature can vary depending on the specific product and coating type being used.
As the oven reaches the desired temperature, the parts are subjected to a predetermined bake time. This duration can range from several minutes to a few hours, depending on the specific Cerakote product and the required curing parameters.
The specialized industrial ovens used for this process employ advanced insulation and heating systems to maintain a stable and uniform temperature throughout the baking chamber. They often incorporate features like forced convection or radiant heat to ensure consistent heat distribution, preventing hot spots or uneven curing.
During the baking process, the ceramic coatings undergo a chemical reaction, cross-linking and bonding to the surface of the parts. This results in enhanced hardness, durability, and chemical resistance.
Once the parts have completed the baking process, they are carefully removed from the oven and allowed to cool. After cooling, the parts are fully cured and ready for use or further assembly.
The use of specialized industrial convection-enabled ovens enables precise control of temperature and bake times, ensuring the full curing of ceramic coatings on the sprayed parts. This carful curing process is essential for achieving the desired properties and longevity of the Cerakote finish, delivering a high-quality coating that exhibits exceptional durability and performance.
After the parts have undergone the baking process to fully cure the ceramic coatings, the stencils are carefully removed. Starting with gentle peeling from the edges or corners, the stencils are slowly lifted, ensuring a steady and even pull to avoid any damage to the coating. If any resistance is encountered, applying a bit of heat to the specific area helps soften the adhesive, facilitating easier removal. As the stencil is peeled away, a fine-tipped tool or tweezers can be used to lift and remove intricate or small pieces. Once the stencil is completely removed, a visual inspection is conducted to ensure all remnants are cleared. Any residual adhesive or fragments can be gently wiped away using a soft cloth or cotton swab with a recommended solvent or cleaner.
Following stencil removal, the coated parts undergo a final inspection for touch-ups or refinishing if needed. Minor corrections, blending, or additional coatings may be applied to achieve the desired appearance and consistency across all surfaces. With careful stencil removal, the coated parts are prepared for their final evaluation and subsequent use, showcasing the intended pattern or design with a durable and cured ceramic coating.
Assembly and Disassembly is often undertaken by customers to avoid the additional labor charge. When required, we can reassemble most parts and work the parts to ensure tolerances are uncompromised by the addition of 1 to 2 mils of ceramic coatings. It’s vital to ensure that sliding and rotating parts still manifest the same behaviors as before disassembly. If you choose to undertake the process yourself, you should expect that any coated part may need additional working and lubrication to ensure original behavior and performance.
Handguns, in particular, require special handling due to the large number of moving, functional parts that play together to turn the genius of firearms design into the smooth-working machines they are.