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They’ll Let You Powder Coat Just About Anything

As long as the material is conductive that is. This is a blog about establishing a working relationship with a local powder coating guy.

A powder coated espresso machine and PC case.

I love a good matte coating.

I am a man of specific tastes, to the point where it legitimately makes my life hard. I have been struggling to find a good lamp for years. I have blogged extensively about my inability to find a decent computer case. And in my journey to find that computer case, I finally realized something custom car guys have known for a while: They’ll let you powder coat anything as long as it sticks.

I love watching YouTube videos where guys just powder coat stuff.

Powder coating rules. It’s thicker and more durable than spray painting something. There is a non-zero chance you have a powder coated water bottle right now in your house. If you don’t know how powder coating is applied, you basically have to hang whatever conductive material you want to coat, hook it up to a machine, cover it in the powder while wearing protective gear, then once it has settled you shove it in an oven to cure it. If you have a garage and a spare oven you can do the whole thing cheaply although it’s kind of a mess. You probably don't want to use your kitchen’s oven for this. If all this sounds like a huge pain in the ass, it kinda is unless you do this a lot, but there are tons of guys who make a living doing this for car parts, probably where you live.

It begins.

I have had two objects powder coated in the last month. The first was an espresso machine shell that I completely disassembled. The model is a Gaggia Classic, which is basically the cheapest “real” espresso machine you can get, which makes it the perennial subject of aftermarket modification. The GCP can often be found cheaply on the secondhand market because they made a million of them, and its simple, effective construction makes it easy to disassemble. It’s like an AK-47 for espresso.

In this case I just googled “powder coating guy New York” and went to the nearest guy I could find. He was like “yeah I can do that, it’s 100 bucks.” A lot of places order from Prismatic Powders, a site I became very familiar with when I Gun Blued a metal track ball and in the process investigated novel, low-friction metal coatings. 

I biked over and dropped it off the shell, making sure to remove everything except the bare metal. He had custom ordered the color himself but in a few weeks I got it: a beautiful seafoam green shell that I immediately reassembled. (If you do this, please mark your wires with a sharpie and take pictures.) It was like a gorgeous, vintage Fiat 500 that makes coffee. I cannot wait to turn this thing inside out in a future blog.

This thing looks so nice now.

In the process of doing this, I was also struggling to find a full sized computer case that did not suck, and settled on Sliger, which I previously blogged about. But after I wrote the blog, I noticed something: Sliger sells uncoated PC cases at request, so you can have it powder coated in any color you want if you email them ( there’s a 10 unit minimum for custom coating). The Cerberus X is not sold in bright colors unlike their servers, but Sliger is a small and personable enough company that they accounted for a scenario where someone might want to bring one to a guy. So I talked to them and asked what options they had. After some options and seeing they sold a server with a handsome cobalt blue, they said they’d be able to throw some of the exterior panels of my case in the next time they did a powder coat. It’d be a longer wait and they would not be able to do final QC, but they’d throw it in as a one time thing.

Endgame PC case. Thank you Sliger.

I’m glad I did because this thing looks incredible. This is exactly what I wanted. This was the PC in my imagination, the one I’ve wanted to build. It’s clean and durable with a gorgeous, eye-catching finish. It feels sturdy, built with the same quality of an old vintage Mac Pro. This feels like a PC case I could theoretically give my grandkids. This is the power of asking if someone can do something special for you.

Damn this looks so good.

I recognize that much of this blog falls into the category of “no shit” for any person who has customized a bike frame or car part. This is not new information, but a lot of people don’t think to do this. When I posted my espresso machine, friends texted me asking where I got that done. Ask, and you shall receive.

We used to live in a world where things were bespoke more often by design, where something like this would be less of an aberration. But there is a power to taking the time to find a guy – whether it is a car detailing shop in your neighborhood you’ve never had a reason to visit, or a PC case company that still has the humanity left in them. Your world can be a little bit brighter, if you just ask.

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