How Much Does An Industrial-Sized Powder Coating System Cost?

Investing in powder coating equipment can dramatically increase the success of a busy job shop or parts manufacturing business. Whether bringing powder coating in-house to save money or improve quality, upgrading from an older coating system, or converting from wet paint to powder coating, there are huge benefits to setting up a new industrial powder coating operation. One of the most common questions the experts at Reliant Finishing Systems get asked is how much will a powder coating system cost? 

Generally, the greater the size and automation level, the higher the system price. It isn’t unusual for an automated coating line with powered conveyor to cost 3-10 times as much as a batch system that can provide similar throughput. In 2023, a coating system for use in a production environment will likely cost over $200,000.00 but less than $2,000,000.00 installed, plus the cost of getting your building ready and connecting utilities. This assumes you’re buying new equipment from an established brand name provider, not unreliable used equipment from a reseller or light-duty equipment from an unknown manufacturer or a hobbyist/home coater website. When dealing with fully automated powder coating lines for very large parts, parts that require outgassing, parts that require multiple coats, or where throughput requirements are quite high, the price can reach $10,000,000.00 or more. 

That’s a wide price range, and it can quickly be narrowed down based on your answers to a few questions. These answers will also help determine what type of system will produce the best results for your application. Industrial finishing systems are typically broken into three categories: batch, constant process, and hybrid.

With batch powder coating systems, parts are prepped, coated, and cured in batches. Most batch systems rely on rolling racks filled with parts and manually transported between appliances. Some batch systems utilize a floor-level towline or overhead conveyor to assist with parts movement. Almost all batch systems involve manual operations. Human operators do parts preparation, powder coating application, and parts handling. 

With constant process lines, automation is more common. Chemical pretreatment is often done with a multi-stage washer instead of washing parts by hand using spray wands. Powder coating is often applied using automated guns instead of painters. Parts are transferred via powered conveyor instead of rolling carts. 

With hybrid systems, parts preparation may be performed offline and then prepped parts are finished using an automated process. In other hybrid systems, parts are moved from one appliance to the next using an indexed conveyor system. The parts dwell in the various appliances for a fixed period of time before being moved in unison. 

This article includes some of the questions we ask when providing an estimated budget to potential buyers, as well as information that can help you assess what type of powder coating system would work best for you.

  1. What’s the largest part you want to coat?

The first thing a powder coating equipment provider must determine while pricing your coating system is the size of the parts you’ll be coating. They will need to know the size of the largest part you will be powder coating with your new system and use that to establish the base size for your equipment. If you typically coat a large number of parts that are significantly smaller than your largest parts, you may want to consider outsourcing the coating for the large parts. If an automated system seems appropriate, using a stand-alone batch system for your large parts may be less expensive than upsizing your conveyorized line to accommodate them.

For batch coating large or small parts, you’ll need to figure out how many parts you can coat at one time and how large the racks (also known as rolling racks or parts carts) will need to be to reach your throughput requirements. In some cases, it may be better to use multiple smaller, easy-to-move racks instead of one or two large, cumbersome ones. With very large parts, seeing only one part per rack is common.

Once you have the measurements for your parts and the rack system you intend to use, you’ll need equipment that is large enough to accommodate your throughput needs and allow equipment operators adequate room to prepare and coat the parts. With automated and/or constant process systems, the appliances are typically smaller in terms of height and width, but the ovens and pretreatment system are often longer to allow for adequate dwell times as parts travel through them. 

  1. How many parts do you need to be able to coat in a typical workday?

Just as important as part size, you need to have an accurate estimate of your throughput requirements. Knowing these two things will help you determine whether a batch coating system, constant process powder coating system, or hybrid coating system will best fit your operation. 

Unless you have multiple appliances to increase productivity, with a batch system the slowest step of the powder coating process limits your throughput. Typically, this will be curing your parts after they have been coated.

After the surface of the part has reached curing temperature, the typical curing time for standard polyester powders is around 10 minutes. This is based on a curing temperature of about 400°F. Sheet metal parts of 16 gauge or thinner material will usually take around 10 minutes to reach curing temperature. This leads to a total curing process time of 20 minutes or a bit more. Heavier parts, such as a frame made from ¼” angle iron or tube stock may take about 30-40 minutes to cure. Curing heavier steel parts and castings can take 45-60 minutes or longer. Different powders will have different curing requirements, but these time estimates make a good guideline when calculating throughput. 

If you need greater throughput, you can either add more ovens or increase the size of the oven. If the labor costs associated with operating multiple ovens or handling giant racks of parts exceeds your operating budget, an automated coating solution might be better.

Most manufacturers immediately prefer a conveyorized system with some level of automation, but purchasing batch equipment is almost always significantly less costly. The number one reason to select an automated coating system over a batch operation is to process more parts per hour. If your business needs to produce a large number of powder coated parts on a daily or weekly basis, and these parts are somewhat similar in size, the best solution is probably a conveyorized line with automated equipment. With this type of system, coating is usually a continual process, so you’ll almost always be able to coat more parts in a set period of time than if you coated them manually in batches. 

Batch powder coating systems, however, provide greater flexibility regarding parts sizing, complexity, and construction materials. Another benefit over constant process lines is that an issue in one area–such as discovering a problem with the powder being applied–won’t prevent other phases of the coating process from taking place, since the parts aren’t being moved along a fixed path by a conveyor. 

  1. How much room do you have to dedicate to your new coating line?

As a general rule, automated systems will require significantly more floor space than other solutions. You will need accurate dimensions of the equipment you are considering to plan an effective shop layout with good workflow. Make sure you have enough room in your shop for not only the equipment, but adequate space for your conveyor or the travel path of your racks. With a batch coating operation, you will also need staging areas for parts moving into and out of your pretreatment, coating, and curing areas. With automated or hybrid systems, you will need enough conveyor to allow for loading, cool-down, and unloading areas. 

Walkways, forklift lanes, emergency egress routes, and storage areas for unused racks are other factors to consider when planning your shop layout. You also need to make certain you have enough space to satisfy your local code requirements. Certain codes specify how much room you must have between appliances or between appliances and the building walls and roof. Codes vary by location, so it’s wise to establish a good relationship with local code inspectors before purchasing a new finishing system.

Another consideration when determining how much room you will need is the cost of having utilities routed to your equipment. Larger systems will usually require longer, more expensive utility runs to reach the various appliances. You also need to allow for code-required valves and disconnects for utilities such as gas and electrical power, as well as the cost to provide compressed air for your blasting equipment (if required), powder guns, and the powder spray booth’s pulsed air self-cleaning features. Water must be supplied to the area where you plan to perform chemical pretreatment and cleaning processes. Drains or water/chemistry capture alternatives are also important, and these can significantly impact your overall budget.

  1. What are the quality requirements for the powder coated finish on your parts?

There are numerous finishing specifications that you may be required to meet in order to capture and retain a client’s business or meet your company’s own product standards. Some of these finish standards require a specific pretreatment process to achieve acceptable results. Others may require finished parts to pass a durability test. Depending on your industry or your end-customers’ uses, your powder coated parts may need to meet national specifications before they can be used in the field.

Three commonly encountered quality standards for coating aluminum are AAMA (American Architectural Manufacturers Association) 2603, 2604, and 2605 ( Each standard requires more extensive pretreatment and stricter powder quality processes than the last. A manual operation can pass the 2603 specification, but the 2604, and definitely the 2605, require an automated pretreatment process (usually of 4-5 stages or more). Dip tanks can work for specialty parts, but manual solutions are not practical if you have a high throughput rate. Using a conveyorized line with a multi-stage pretreatment system is the most efficient way to consistently prepare large quantities of parts. 

If you need stringent quality control, an automated coating line provides repeatable and consistent finish quality that would be challenging to match with a manual coating operation. Automatic gun systems from companies like Wagner, Nordson, and Gema can be programmed to apply specific amounts of powder at just the right setting for best coverage. The process can be fine-tuned for each unique part and then easily repeated automatically. If the booth and guns are properly maintained, the results are consistently ideal. 

Knowing the details of your finish quality requirements makes specifying your coating system much simpler. As with size and throughput, the more demanding your finish requirements are, the more expensive your powder coating system is likely to be.

  1. What are your goals in terms of long-term labor costs?

Labor cost management is a critical component of efficient production. Reducing the labor costs associated with manufacturing can propel a company forward. Automated finishing lines can almost always reduce the amount of labor required when compared to their manual counterparts, whether batch, constant process, or hybrid in nature. In any case, a minimum number of employees is required to operate and maintain a finishing system, no matter how heavily automated it is. 

With a small to midsize automated line, you will need someone to load the parts, another person to set up and keep an eye on the pretreatment system and spray booth, and perform manual touch-up of problem areas, a third person to inspect/unload the parts, and a finish line manager to keep chemical and powder orders up to date, assure the employees are doing a quality job, and make certain the equipment is running properly and being well maintained. At least one person needs to know how to adjust the pretreatment equipment, titrate the chemistry, load powders, and maintain the conveyor and finishing equipment so the line operates efficiently. Even if personnel perform multiple roles, a minimum of 3-5 employees is typically required for a basic automatic line.

You will likely need a few more workers to obtain a similar amount of throughput using batch equipment. You will need someone to load the parts, possibly a second person and third person to move loaded racks from station to station, another person or two to perform pretreatment, one or two people to coat parts, at least one person to load the oven and inspect/unload the parts, and a finish line manager. Even if personnel perform multiple roles, a minimum of 6-9 employees is usually required for a production powder coating operation that uses batch equipment.

Need Coating Advice or Help Sizing A New Powder Coating Line? We’re Here for You!

In addition to designing new coating systems, and manufacturing, installing, and supporting our own powder coating and industrial painting equipment, Reliant Finishing Systems also provides a wide range of services to help you update your existing finishing system or make changes so your coating operation runs smoothly. We offer line audits, on-site troubleshooting, consulting, equipment refurbishment, and more. Call us today at (256) 355-9000 if we can be of help.