‘A’ Class Powder coating refers to the aesthetic standard required to meet the highest quality possible, otherwise known as ‘eye level’ powder coating. These finishes are typically associated with the automotive trade and are those surfaces that most obviously meet the eye in the showroom. They are of critical importance because they give the first impression of quality to the potential customer and is therefore instrumental in the decision making process of buying a car. The standard of finishes can be further categorised into ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. If a prospective customer approaches a car in a showroom in a normal standing position, the surfaces that are closest to the face and are of the highest visibility are categorised as ‘A’ class or eye level. Those surfaces which are not in direct line of sight but can easily be seen if the customer is in what would be considered a normal posture but a more unusual position (ie at an angle or distance) would be classed as ‘B’. Surfaces only seen if the person takes up a more unusual position in order to specifically examine the surface more closely or to access the a remote and usually inaccessible spot would be classed as a ‘C’ finish.
A good example which easily explains these classifications is the roof rail. The roof rail is eye level and is therefore of critical importance in respect of aesthetic quality however it has three basic surfaces: the outer edge which meets the eye immediately, the inside edge which can be seen at a distance ie across the car, and the underside which can usually only be seen if bending down and looking up at the same time. These are classed as ‘A’, ‘B’, & ‘C’ respectively. It is usual to define defect sizes and numbers for each of these categorised surfaces with the ‘A’ being the most stringent. These visual quality standards are set by the industry and are combined with physical and chemical standards which are achieved with the powder formulations, and specified pre-treatments.
What is the ‘gloss level’ of a Powder Coat.
Whilst powder coating can be split into 3 basic classifications; Matt, Satin, & Gloss. There is a cross over from one to another and can be down to the eye of the beholder. For instance the most common finish; Ford Matt Black can be considered to be a more Satin finish, and may often be referred to a Satin Matt or Semi-Gloss (the latter being technically wrong) which confuses the picture especially when some of the wet painted body colours are visually as Matt as you can get. However, don’t fear, help is on hand for those like designers or stylists who need to determine a more exact finish as the ‘gloss level’ can be measured exactly and specified. It must be noted this can be further complicated as there are numerous textures available as well with some having a smooth dappled appearance to others having a sharper course (almost matchbox) type finish.
A formulation that is basically glossy finish but has a course texture is not going to give a high gloss appearance or reading, but it will be very different with a matt formulation with the same texture. For most the eye is the best judge, with samples using the same base material essential and condition to be exact.
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