Thermoset powder coatings also melt when exposed to heat, but they then chemically cross-link within themselves or with other reactive components. The cured coating then has a different chemical structure than the basic resin. Thermosetting coatings are heat-stable and, unlike thermoplastic powders, will not soften back to liquid phase when re-heated.
Thermosetting powders are derived from four generic types of resins: epoxy, acrylic, polyester and fluoropolymer. From these resin types, several coating systems are derived. Resins used in thermosetting powders can be ground into fine particles necessary for spray application and a thin film finish. Most of the technological advancements in recent years have been with thermosetting powders.
Thermoplasic powders melt and flow when heat is applied but they continue to have the same chemical composition once they cool and solidify.
They are generally applied to a surface that has been preheated to a temperature significantly higher than the melting point of the powder. As a thermoplastic powder material is applied to the hot surface it will melt and "fusion bond" to the surface and then "flow out" into a strong, continuous film. As the film cools it develops its physical properties.