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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Wood grain effect with powder coating -- how to achieve it?

Q. Dear Sir,

I am an architect and doing a doctoral thesis about the different types of surface treatments of aluminium applied to window carpentry and particularly the decorative treatments imitating wood.

The information I have says that the company that discovered the "Heat-transfer" system is "V.I.V. DECORAL s.p.a.", an Italian Company, during 1990. The system is based on a sublimation process. In general it can be explained as follows:
1) An initial base lacquer.
2) The aluminium bar is wrapped in a bag to which the paint is stuck.
3) Vacuuming.
4) The bar with the paper is put into the oven at a temperature of ± 210 °C.
5) The paper is withdrawn and you can notice the grains of the supposed wood on the surface of the aluminium.

I also know of another system; the process is called "Cubic printing". This is the same process used to decorate the interior trim of most modern cars today. Using this new technology, aluminium window frame look like wood. I know absolutely nothing about this system. I believe that "Eurocoating", Spanish Company, is working on a similar system, applied on extruded aluminium. I would be grateful if you could send me the information regarding "Cubic printing" (steps in the production process, a booklet with information, etc.)

I also would be grateful if you could correct the information, in case there were mistakes and answer the following questions:
· When was this system invented?
· When did it start to be applied on aluminium profiles?
· Is "Cubic printing" suitable for use under conditions where continuous water and ultraviolet rays from sun are present?
· Is "Cubic printing" suitable for using on extruded aluminium profiles? If no, what method is suitable?
· Could you cite some example of companies that use "cubic printing" in extruded aluminium profiles?
· Which are the defects of "cubic printing" when continuous water and ultraviolet rays from sun are present? I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully.

Pablo Oubiña López
Architect - SPAIN (Pontevedra)

A. Pablo,

Si hay en España empresas que utilizan el sistema "cubico" para similar no solo madera sino tambien marmol, fibra de carbono, etc. Se aplica en piezas para automoción, motocicletas, perfumeria, etc. Supongo en la proxima feria de Eurosufas en Barcelona podras encontar lo que buscas.


Jordi Pujol
- Barcelona, SPAIN

Ed. note: We appreciate Jordi's exceptional helpfulness in writing in the presumed native language of the inquirer. However, there are 100 or 1000 readers for every writer, so postings on this site should be in English. Thanks for your understanding!

A. Hi Sir,

Yes, you're in the right direction. Besides Heat Transfer there'a another way mostly used car accessories market. We do deal this one and that's called Water Transfer Printing.
Basically, the system would be slightly more expensive than heating transfer but releases a better graphic look. You can check it mostly as Burled wood car parts like wheels, gear-knobs, steering -wheels.

Giuliano [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Italy




- New Delhi

Ed. note: Sorry, this RFQ is old & outdated, so contact info is no longer available. However, if you feel that something technical should be said in reply, please post it; no public commercial suggestions please ( huh? why?)

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Start up instructions for wood-finish aluminum

Q. My company manufactures aluminum windows and doors. Wood finish powder coating is just starting to take off here and already the demand is out weighing the supply. I am very interested and able to start a powder coating plant here, however I am clueless. I'm looking for as much info as possible. From what equipment would I need, to where would I get supplies, to how the whole process works. Another thing that has interested me for long time is that no one in South Africa is able to do highly polished aluminum longer than 3,2m. Once again I am clueless. What would 1 need to set up an anodizing plant that can bright polish aluminum? Are the processes and some of the equipment similar?

So in conclusion, your help would be must appreciated.

Michael Hadjitheodorou
aluminum fabricator - Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

A. Dear Michael,

There are three basic powder coating processes to simulate a wood grain effect.

a) Decoral: a transfer system Italy . Available w. wide Apply polyester powder, green bake, apply transfer, remove air between powder & transfer (vacuum chamber), bake. Mainly used on flat surfaces. Process can be expensive due to the expensive equipment required (vacuum).
b) Powder on powder: Apply powder, bake, apply powder and brush off to form grain effect - bake. I believe dev and sold by Becker Powders. Any shape can be coated but finish similar to wood ex a saw mill because the two films of powder do not flow together.
c) Artpow: one bake system, no prints, low cost, smooth any shape of profile. Nylon or thermosetting powders. Grain effect not as good as Decoral (but okay for most industrial applications). Only sold in UK. These are the three basic approaches to creating a wood grain effect.

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Decorative treatment imitating wood

Q. I want to know about the double layer method of powder coating by which we can get wood grain finish. Could you inform me about the procedure and equipment for having wood grain finished powder coating? This much I know: the first layer is just conventional but the second layer give the article a wood grain effect. Please inform me how it could be done.

Thanks and best regards,

Haseeb A. Farooqui
Aluminum fabrication - Muscat, Oman

A. Mr. Farooqui,

I know it doesn't do you any good to get responses from people that can't help you, but I've been in the powder coating business for 16 years and haven't seen this done. I also just read an internet article where the author was answering the same question; he basically said that the mechanics of powder coating don't lend themselves to this process. If you have any luck in finding a procedure, write again and let everybody know. Good Luck.
P.S. Most of the manufacturers' sites have visual samples of all of the "special effects" paints that are available.

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

A. Dear Sirs,

Powder coating to simulate a wood grain effect has been around for many years. Nearly every powder wood grain special is a two bake system -- and the method of how to obtain the effect is only divulged upon payment for the right to use their system. One or two of these suppliers also require you to purchase certain equipment, this can cost $300,000.

We supply a one bake system that has been in use in the UK for many years and we do not charge our UK customers for the process -- but they do have to sign a secrecy agreement not to divulge how our one coat wood grain effect is achieved.

I am sorry I cannot divulge how wood grain effects are achieved; it is sufficient to state that they have been around for many years, but to gain this knowledge you will have to pay a high cost.

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom

A. In agreement with one of the replies above, I can say that I have seen this process working and affirm that it works in a one coat system.

The graining effect is very realistic, and the appearance is like woodgrain veneer.

Geoff Crowley
Crithwood Ltd.
Westfield, Scotland, UK
crithwood logo

Q. Mr. Hickling,

Is there a product that you know of (or can divulge) that comes to the states that has this effect so that I can get a look at it? I might have been looking at a powder produced wood grain for years and never even have known. It certainly would be interesting. Thanks.

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina

A. Dear Sheldon,

As far as I am aware there are about six suppliers in the world - all in Europe. It is possible that finished items have found their way over the pond or certain coaters have a licensing agreement with a European mfgr.

Such items that are being produced: Doors (house) - garage doors - tables - display work - curtain rods and many other things. Anything that is currently made from wood could in many cases use powder wood grain effect - SAVE THE RAIN FOREST! About 50% of the systems on offer are only suitable for flat surfaces but are a mirror image of wood. The remainder are acceptable to designers and their clients and will produce a wood grain effect on any profile aluminum or mild steel.

The ability to pass 1000 hours UV B seems to be acceptable standard.

I can assure you that even under close inspection (visual) it is very difficult to state with conviction what's wood and what's powder -- only to the touch can you be certain: wood giving a warm feel and metal being cold.

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom

thumbs up signOnce I think I know everything, look what happens! LOL, thanks for all the good information. Anything to save the rain forest is certainly worth the effort (did anybody tell those guys that they can stop deforesting now?)

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina


A. Hi Guys,

Check out "Naturall" it should answer some of your questions.

Hope this helps.

Drew Devlin
- Lincolnshire

A. Since we have been given the name of one Italian supplier "Naturall" I think it is only fair to give some of the other suppliers' product names: Italy: Naturall, Decoral, Woodall; UK: Artpow

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Ed. note: But is it "only fair" to small suppliers for us to promote their large international competitors with free advertising and not them, and "only fair" to the advertisers, whose support is making this site possible, to bill them for promotion of their competitors who choose a free ride?
Sorry, but the only way for to achieve our mission of the exchange of technical help in a free, honest, friendly, no registration required forum not drowning in spam & sales blather, is to exclude the possibility of commercial benefit from postings. We receive hundreds of spams daily; if a small piece of proprietary promotion occasionally slips through, surely the required repair isn't to throw open the floodgates to comment spam :-)

A. Wood effect (2 layer type) can be achieved in two ways; either by applying a first powder coating layer (usually polyurethane ) and cure it to lower limit then apply a film that is already prepared for this job; the other method is by applying the second layer also of powder coating and before curing an automated brush shape the requested finish, and then cure with the requested wood effect.

Nawras Alrimawi
- Zarqa, Jordan

A. There are several woodgrain effects in different systems on the market and mainly developed in Europe.
Sublimation, liquid on powder, or powder on powder.
You can choose out of several sublimation film suppliers, different suitable powders and equipment manufacturers all depending on your needs.

Pierre Bols
- Utrecht, Netherlands

A. Besides the one and two-coat powder coatings, and the sublimation approach, yet another path to woodgrain effect is liquid film transfer, or "water transfer printing". A wood effect sort of like a decal is floated on water; the part is placed into the water and this "liquid decal" adheres to the surface.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. Dear Friends,

Please be informed that we are in the same field since 9 years and there are several options you may have on that process. Sublimation on powder coated surface, powder on powder, wet on powder and finally water printing.

Mazyar Rabbani
- London

Q. Dear Mr.Terry Hickling,
Well and wish to know the same from you. I am Shiva. I am working in the powder coatings research field for the last 5 years. Regular wood grain effect in powder coatings. You are supplying single bake system which can produce variety of wood grain finish. But are you supplying a powder which can stimulate a wood grain finish in a single coat? Because I have also done this in a single bake system, but it is not a single coat.


Sr.Technologist - India

Multiple threads merged: please forgive chronology errors :-)

Impressioning a Wood Grain into aluminum tubing

Q. Does anyone know of a process in which you can impression a wood grain into the 4 sides of a square aluminum tube approximately 4" - 6" square?

Jim Berns
lighting manufacturer - Muscatine, Iowa

simultaneous replies

A. You could try anodizing it, then silk screening the wood grain pattern on.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

A. That is pretty simple.

Do the appropriate pre-treatment followed by powder coating. The best powder for this is Poly Urethane but even Pure Polyester works. PU gives better UV resistance. Most top of the line powder suppliers have special powders for sublimation transfer.

Once the powder coat is cured, you can apply an activator which is principally a glue. On that you apply the heat transfer paper and then re heat the object once more. Once it is out of the oven and cool enough to handle remove the paper and you have wood finish on the metal surface.

Gurvin Singh
Mohali, Punjab, India

A. Dear Jim,

Using Artpow you will be able to decorate any shaped profile -- it does not need to be a flat surface. By the way Artpow works with Nylon also. We are in the UK so you would need to see if the volume of metal to be coated warrants the high cost of importing this material and technical service would be non-existent -- not that we have had any problems in 7 years.

Terry Hickling
Birmingham, United Kingdom

Ed. note: Generic descriptions, not brand names please, gentle readers.

A. Hi Jim,

It is simple!

You just need to do the heat transfer printing on it. This process is the most simple and cheap. The only thing is that you need to buy a heat transfer machine.

It works by applying the vacuum on heat transfer wrapped aluminum profiles and then heating them up to 200 °C and that's it!


Mazyar Rabbani
- London, UK

A. The other respondents seem to point to a decorative solution. Is this what you want? Or do you need a real three dimensional engraved pattern? If so, you would need to send it to an engraving house. By means of chemical solutions spread over the aluminum surface treated with a special print, a 3D raised pattern identical to the selected wood grain will appear. This is commonly known as chemical texturing and is mostly used to decorate internal surfaces of plastic injection molds to impart the plastic parts the aspect and texture of leather, wood, fabrics, etc.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

Q. I am interested in powder in "wood effect" powder coating. So I would like to know about the details of the technique and suppliers of machinery or equipment

Huseyin Al
wood effect in powder coating - Manisa, Turkey
October 21, 2010

Ed. note: Please go to Google for supplier names and contact info.

A. Hi Sheldon and others,

We supply woodgrain finishings in powder to powder process. We are using PVDF for the woodgrain and normal powders for base coat. Base coat depends on the application and warranty requirements. It's been around for a few years over here. And we supply mainly for the Australian market. Australia has a harsh climate and we coat to achieve AS standards.

Fred R.
- Hong Kong

thumbs up sign Dear sirs.
I read all the above posts.
I research very much about this subject but there is not good information or I can't find it.
Now I decide to purchase a wood effect system (powder on powder)
When it starts working I will send you photos and information.

Mahdi Shahsanami
- Arak, Iran
December 6, 2011

Hi Mahdi. We look forward to your update! Sorry that you found the page unsatisfying. There are some limits to what the forum can offer; as Terry indicated, how to do woodgrain powder coating is proprietary rather than generic knowledge, and it is only shared with licensees.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Hi,
I am Tuhin.
Can you give a brief idea about the film being used for sublimation for wood grain powder coating?
What is the ideal application parameter for the same?
If we use Primid polyester chemistry instead of PU system, what problems would arise?

- Bangalore, Karnataka, India
June 7, 2016

Q. I have a powder coating plant. I do wood effect on aluminium profile using vacuum machine. Base powder coating is light brown in matte. After wood design is transferred on aluminum profile there are lots of spots seen on profile. These spots look like having satin finish.

- Mumbai, India
September 9, 2016

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