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New pre-treatment system of Minka powder coating

Sustainable flexibility in powder coating

Making powder coating more environmentally friendly and efficient was the major goal we had set ourselves for 2023 and 2024. The modernised pre-treatment system and the new control systems recently went into operation. We can look back on an extremely successful project in more than one respect.

Making powder coating future-proof

Powder coating is a process that is primarily used for the surface finishing of metals. At our site in St. Lorenzen im Mürztal, we have been coating a wide variety of materials such as aluminium and steel for almost 50 years. In addition to various products for our business customers, we also apply our in-house powder coating to metal parts for our own staircases.

Pre-treatment as the basis for good powder coating

Step 1 in powder coating is always the proper pre-treatment. This involves removing dirt from the surface of the material using various chemical and mechanical processes to prepare it for the subsequent powder coating.

Chrome is often used for pre-treatment – as has been the case for us so far – which is not exactly considered an environmentally friendly material. As this is contrary to our sustainability philosophy, there was a need for action.

Increased demands on powder coating

The market has also changed increasingly in recent years: These days, customers want products that meet their exact requirements and they want them as quickly as possible. Mass customisation is becoming more and more of a trend.

With our old powder coating systems, we were no longer able to meet these demands. In order to become even more flexible in the colour design of our staircases, we needed more efficient and faster control technology.

A project for more sustainability and efficiency

In order to meet both our own requirements and those of our customers, we launched a major refurbishment project in 2023. The pre-treatment line and control technology in particular were to be optimised and modernised. The Minka slogan “Flexible design. Sustainable use.” was regarded as a guiding principle.

Faster, cleaner, safer

The planned modernisation was tackled under the title “3S Powder Coating – faster, cleaner, safer”. Specifically, we worked towards the following goals:

  • Reducing the amount of water required for pre-treatment by approx. 70%
  • Conversion to chrome-free pre-treatment in the interests of environmental protection
  • Automation of the production process from order receipt to powder ordering and production through to delivery
  • Increasing the capacity of the powder coating systems by approx. 25%
  • Ensuring flexibility in colouring through more efficient and faster processes

Strong partners

In order to achieve the goals we had set ourselves, we first looked for a suitable partner with the necessary expertise for the detailed planning and implementation of the project. The choice fell on the renowned company E. Luterbach AG, which has been an expert in the modernisation of powder coating systems for many years.

We received financial support for the realisation of the project through the “Wachstums!Schritt” funding campaign of SFG – Steirische Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft m.b.H and through funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). You can find more information on the IBW/ERDF & JTF programme at


Retrofit of the pre-treatment systems

The core of the refurbishment project was the complete renewal and modernisation of our 4-chamber spray pre-treatment and chemical dosing systems. By using several cascade-type rinsing zones, we achieve lower contamination of the rinsing water. From now on, the chemical values within the active baths will be checked using online measurement. If the actual values deviate from the target values, dosing is now carried out fully automatically.

This not only allows us to work more efficiently, but also in a more sustainable way. The revision of the dosing systems makes it possible to completely dispense with the use of chromium in pre-treatment. There are also significant improvements in terms of water consumption: With the new processes, we not only save a large amount of waste water, but also utilise the remaining waste water sensibly. With the help of evaporation processes, the water is treated again so that we can feed it back into the production cycle.

More flexibility thanks to new control technology

The second part of our refurbishment project centred on revising the entire powder coating control system. It was updated to the latest state of the art, making it much easier to operate and allowing many processes to run automatically.

For example, orders are now automatically transferred from the customer orders to the production systems and powder ordering is also handled with software support. Thanks to the modernised control system, we can also ensure significantly shorter cycle times for the trolleys with the components. This results in shorter throughput times and we benefit not only from higher production capacities, but also from greater flexibility.

Successful project completion

The new and modernised powder coating systems were finally put into operation at the beginning of March. Now we can not only produce faster, but also more efficiently and flexibly. We are delighted to be able to fulfil our customers’ wishes even better from now on, while at the same time protecting the environment. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the successful completion of this project!

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