Massachusetts powder coater expands with new lines, infrared ovens.

Holyoke, Massachusetts, sits smack dab in the middle of the bustling Pioneer Valley, just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and I-91, about 90 minutes west of Boston and just north of Springfield.

The city was one of the first planned industrial communities in the U.S. Back in the 1840s, industrialists began construction of a dam and canal system along the Connecticut River, and soon mills began sprouting up and attracting workers and their families, making Holyoke—once the home of the largest paper mill in the world—a destination for work and prosperity.

Most of those mills have disappeared in the past century, but prosperity is still abundant, as high-tech jobs have moved into the region and diversified its economic base. And thanks to more than 32 regional colleges and universities, such enterprises as the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center have been formed.

Holyoke is also the home of Westside Finishing, a 35-year-old powder coating facility that has also jumped on the technology bandwagon, recently installing new, sophisticated coating equipment and ovens that enable increased throughput and additional efficiencies to attract more customers.

Owner Brian Bell is the hands-on president of the company, and his wife, Jeanne, serves as office manager. Son Korey Bell is Westside’s operations manager who helped oversee the installation of a new convection dry-off oven, infrared gel oven and a radiant-convection cure oven.

IR Ovens

“It’s exciting, new technology,” says Brian Bell, who started his company as a liquid coatings job shop in west Springfield in the early 1980s. “When we started looking at expanding, the infrared ovens were something we wanted to take a hard look at because we knew some other shops that had them and liked what they could do.”

Amiberica, Inc. in Chicago was the general contractor on the ovens and conveyor installation, and Wagner Industrial Solutions installed a new powder booth. Bell says Westside used an existing three-stage pretreatment washer and an EPA powder booth as components for the new coating line, which complements four batch-spray booths and ovens the company was already using.

Different Part Sizes

Bell says one advantage of the radiant convection cure oven is that it works very well with parts of different sizes simultaneously, so a pipe with a 4-inch diameter can be coated alongside a 2-inch pipe in the same line without worrying about the oven temperature and line speed.

“It give us great flexibility,” he says.

Marty Kosiek, who heads the sales and distribution division for Amiberica, says infrared heat has been around for many years, but is rapidly gaining acceptance in the powder coating industry.

Read more: Powder Coating’s Westside Story