How to customize an espresso machine.

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#1: Post by pantechnicon »

Hi everyone,
I have started a series of articles over on our blog https://www.pantechnicondesign.com/blog ... de-1-color walking through the different aspects of espresso machine customization. I'll share the content over here so that it is easier to find, comment and ask questions. I include answers to common questions and lessons learned from our experiences over the years customizing hundreds of espresso machines and making thousands of parts. Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for future topics.
Cheers,
Jacob



Episode 1. - Color

You decided to make the jump. You reviewed all the specs, the price, and the features. You made a spreadsheet. You created google alerts. You lie in bed at night, and with your eyes closed you can see it already sitting on your kitchen counter. But, you are sleeping restlessly.

After a few nights of tossing and turning, it hits you! All your careful research, the machine you painstakingly selected, the one result your expertly designed filter returned to you, is only available in polished stainless steel......with plastic highlights. But what about your grand vision? There were flowers! You weren't turning plastic knobs! In your mind they were a lustrous semi-gloss, with the undulating grain of sustainably harvested walnut; and grain as deep and rich as your favorite bean. And, there was no glaring reflection of the morning sun, in your grand vision, your machine, in perfect harmony with the rest of your kitchen, was a calm and breezy matte white.

So what is one to do? Despair? Settle for less? Regress to the mean? You think, "I wonder if I could customize my espresso machine? Is that a thing?" Good news! It's a thing!

These days there are more options for espresso machine customization than ever before, and by following some simple guidelines, you can make sure that your custom espresso machine project is a success.

Surface coatings: Understanding the basics

Your two main options for changing the color of a custom espresso machine are paint and powder coat. There are others that we will discuss in future episodes, but these two are the most common.

Paint

Paint can be sprayed on many materials including metal and some plastic. When done by a specialty painter, a paint finish can look pretty good.....for a while. The main drawback with paint is that it has mediocre durability. If you paint plastic parts, you will be able to scratch it off with your fingernail. Here at Pantechnicon we try to avoid using paint at all cost - especially in a commercial application because after 3 months of commercial use, it will look terrible. The best option for dealing with plastic parts is to replace them with parts made of a different material. Definitely DO NOT paint or powder coat your drain tray or steam wands. This coating will not last, and will look terrible in a matter of weeks.




Powder Coat


Powder coat is a process where powdered plastic or epoxy pigment is stuck on to a metal part with an electrostatic charge and then baked in an oven to cure. Powder coat can only be used to coat metal parts. Powder coat has much higher durability than paint and is a good option for custom espresso machine body panels. Light scratches in powder coat (as long as they don't go through to the base metal) can also be buffed out. The main failure mode with powder coat is in areas with prolonged contact with steam, hot water, and coffee oil. No, really, DO NOT paint or powder coat your drain tray or steam wands. This coating will not last, and will look terrible in a matter of weeks.

Pick a reputable vendor: If you are spending the extra time and money to go through this process, you want it to be as easy and trouble free as possible. Doing a custom color espresso machine falls firmly in the "simple but not easy" category. You will be best served by selecting a vendor who does this full time, and not as an extra. By selecting a full time customizer, you will get better results because they will have spent the time to develop the relationships with the suppliers necessary to get consistently high quality parts delivered on time. With surface coatings like paint and powder coat, there are many common defects that can happen, and the powder coater needs to have a process in place that is specific to espresso machine parts. The thin, polished sheet metal panels that are typical in espresso machine construction need to be sanded or bead blasted to create a rough surface for the powder coat to grip on to, which will give you maximum adhesion and durability. If this isn't done correctly or at all, the coating can peel off.

If possible, purchase your machine from the same person that is doing the customizing. This will simplify your purchase process tremendously, and ensure you receive good warranty support for the equipment and the custom parts. Custom color can be a great way to take your machine to the next level, or add a unique color pop to your kitchen design.

Thanks for reading! In our next episode, we will be talking about some different materials you can use to customize your espresso machine. Until then, be well, and go have a coffee.

Best,

Jacob

Coffcarl

#2: Post by Coffcarl »

Hi, a point or two to add, having been through the powder coating process:

Mask grounding points on the panels.

Mask areas that can affect fit. On my Bezzera BZ99, the sheet metal slides into grooves on the base and these barely fit in the grooves after coating. The powder coating increases dimensional width substantially, so be aware of that. Things like switches and knobs that go through the sheet metal may need adjustment or more force to be retained properly.

My shop was not aware of my application. If they had known, and if I had been aware of the potential issues, they may have been able to avoid some of these issues with selective masking or a lighter coat in certain areas.

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#3: Post by pantechnicon »

Great points @Coffcarl!
Masking is an important part of the powder coat process to ensure correct fit upon re-assembly. Internal threads, external threads, mating features, cut-outs, etc. all need to be evaluated for fit, and then brought to your powder coater's attention so that they can mask those areas as needed.
Cheers,
Jacob