Image Above: Typical use of architectural powder coated aluminium
In 1986 several National Associations across Europe representing coaters of architectural aluminium systems formed the QUALICOAT Organisation, an Association for Quality Control in the Lacquering, Painting and Coating Industry. Their goal was to raise and standardise the quality of coatings throughout Europe, laying down voluntary rules which have become the basis of the QUALICOAT Standard today, now in its 16th Edition.
Membership today extends beyond European countries to include an Australian Association, an Association of Southern Africa and producers of coating materials in Asia, America and Europe. Membership is open to all architectural coatings applicators, producers of paints, powders, dyes and chemical pretreatment systems. First used in the 1970’s, architectural powder coatings have become firmly established as the specifiers’ choice for architectural finishing across the globe.
QUALICOAT today is well established, but the Association owes its roots to an older surface finishing system, that of anodising and the QUALANOD Association, an Association for Quality Control in the Anodising Industry. Formed in 1974, several National Associations encompassing anodisers of architectural systems and products organised under the then EURAS and EWAA, formed the QUALANOD organisation. Their successor organisations ESTAL and EAA still remain founders members of QUALANOD today. Their goal was to raise the standards and quality of anodised aluminium throughout Europe, laying down rules applying to their industry and eventually within their own licensed membership. Early successes of the founding of QUALANOD lead to the early formation of QUALICOAT to offer similar quality guidance to the rapidly evolving powder coating processes being introduced onto architectural aluminium across Europe at the time.
More recently QUALIDECO has been introduced, a licensed coating system which is able to replicate any finish such as realistic wood grains, marble/granite effects and any other photographic images on a powder coated base coat.
Differing from the well-known anodising and powder coat finishes, QUALIDECO finishes are generated by initially powder coating to offer a base colour suitable for the agreed finish. A transfer film, printed with special inks, is then tightly applied over the coated products. Assemblies are then placed inside a special oven which subjects the assembly to pressure and high temperature to vaporise the inks which in turn penetrate the powder coated base layer. Once the film is removed and the products cooled, finishes are completely and realistically decorated and ready for use.
A further group, QUALISURFAL has been formed as a Special Interest Group established under the umbrella of QUALICOAT and QUALANOD. QUALISURFAL comprises of separate divisions for the monitoring of Anodising, Coating and Decoration quality.
All testing laboratories and inspection bodies approved by QUALICOAT are members of the Coating section of QUALISURFAL. They have to be accredited to ISO 17025 for the tests prescribed by QUALICOAT and to participate in inter laboratory tests. Testing and inspections bodies are regularly audited against the operational requirements of QUALICOAT. Plenary meetings are held once a year, alternately in each of the label organisations’ member countries. All licensed members of QUALANOD, QUALICOAT and QUALIDECO are regularly third party inspected by QUALISURFAL accredited test houses to ensure QUALITY is upheld. A failure to meet the high expectations of these inspections will mean the loss of the application licence for a member.
Copies of the sixteenth edition of the QUALICOAT Standard, complete with the amended updates, are available through the UK Association website, www.qualicoatuki.org together with an up-to-date list of licensed UK and Ireland Powder Suppliers, Pretreatment Suppliers and Applicators. Printed literature and telephone support is available from QUALICOAT UK & Ireland Head Office in Birmingham on 0330 236 2800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org