Applying Protective Coatings To Your Foam Carvings

– 5 Things to Consider

If you’re in the foam carving business, you know the value of the protective hard coating process (and if you don’t, you should). For those just starting out in the business, be conscious that it’s often an disregarded step that doesn’t get the recognition it needs. To avoid expensive product defects and reworks, proper preparation is crucial. Let’s imagine that your foam piece is cut and you’ve chosen the most suitable coating for your design. Before you commence spraying, there are a few things to acknowledge that will help you avoid some of the most prevalent application problems.

1. Thickness

Don’t press that trigger until you know how dense you’ll be applying your chosen coating. The thickness of the layer will not only determine the durability of the outcome, but it’s also going to have an impression on the final weight of the piece and on your resources. Regardless of the type of coating, thicker coats are going to create a more robust final product, but this thicker coat will cost more in materials and will also add more weight. These kinds of factors must be considered so you know how much stuff is required to finish the job, and so you’re not left guessing during the actual spraying.

2. Detail

Does your finished design require a high degree of detail? If it does, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve overestimated the depth of the foam carving to anticipate the thickness of the coating to be applied. Protective layer tends to smooth out details in the foam when it’s implemented, so deeper sculpting will help avoid the loss of detail in the final piece. Once the piece has been coated, intricate information can still be added with the use of materials like epoxy putty, but anticipating this detail before coating will save some time when it comes to standard sculpting.

3. Texture

Depending on the decisive look and feel you want for your product, there are some application techniques you can use. Before you start spraying, know the method you’re going to use and ensure that your work area is equipped for that particular technique. Perhaps your application technique will require you to stand at a certain distance from the piece, or maybe there are tricky areas that will need some creative spraying. Taking these types of things into account beforehand and planning will help create a trouble-free application process, which translates into production efficiencies, less wasted material, and a better end product.

4. Spraying environment

Even if you’ve considered everything you need to as far as technique goes, there are other external determinants that can affect the quality of your coated piece. The environment in your spraying facility is one of these factors that can come back to bite you. When it comes to curing, some coatings can be fickle. Specific materials will not fully heal in an environment that’s too hot, cold or humid. In some cases, weaknesses in your product caused by improper curing might not even show up until after the piece has been installed. Be sure that you know what conditions your coating material needs to be applied in, and ensure that the surfaces to be sprayed are adequately equipped to accept the coating. Without adequate preparation, bubbling, cracking and peeling may be the result.

5. Equipment readiness

Ensuring that your equipment is operating correctly would seem to be a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many projects run into serious problems thanks to misfiring equipment. Before every project, fully inspect your spraying equipment, checking all potential problem areas and running the required tests – including all health and safety considerations. Materials should also be checked for proper mixing and temperatures. Don’t forget to cycle element through your lines periodically to keep the lines primed. While you’re spraying is not the time to find out that something is off, because at that point it’s probably too late.

Like most things in life, problems with foam coating application can happen when you least expect them. Operators that get used to equipment functioning correctly over a period can get complacent, and it’s the one time when something isn’t supported favorably that things go wrong. Unfortunately, things going wrong at the coating stage can mean the destruction of an entire project, so a little preparation goes a long way. With conventional technique, training, and preparation, your plans will be sure to impress.

For more information about integrated foam carving systems and about Spray Coating Systems, visit

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