I bought "powder coated" nipples for a new build to match a frame. It's for a SOMA Wolverine and the wheels were to be black spoke & rim with orange nipples - all the other non-orange parts are black so I'm looking to complete the overall effect. The color is a good match. However the "powder coating" comes off as easily as dried acrylic house paint from chrome. With normal use of a spoke wrench (for example Park Tool SW-22.2) the coating is peeling away as soon as the wrench is removed, around the holes in the rim it's a similar story even though the heads and threads of the nipples are lubricated. Part of the problem is that the "powder coating" is very thick on some nipples, thin enough not to affect the fit of the wrench on others.
The story from the seller - Newson Sportec (select "PC Orange" if you want to see a nipple photo) - is that these nipples can only be tightened from the rear, i.e. by screwdriver. Of course that information only comes after lacing up the wheel and finding that the paint is falling off, turning what should have been a perfect new wheel into a mess.
If you're an experienced wheel builder, have you ever build a wheel without a spoke wrench, do you think it is possible to build a correctly tensioned wheel using only the slot?
My thought is spoke rotation would be far harder to observe and with the wheel in a rotating truing stand it would be almost impossible to keep the driver engaged with the slot. And then the spokes would have to be exactly the right length or else they would protrude from the back of the spoke, disengaging the driver - as a Nipple Driver (e.g. Park Tool ND-1) is designed to be disengaged. Or be too short and not grab enough thread.
If you haven't built a wheel - ever come across "powder coating" soft as butter?
edit: Part of the problem might be that the brass nipples have been plated in what looks like chrome before the "powder coating" was applied. I suspect plain brass, even without any preparation of the surface, would have been a much better base for the color. Anyway they are removed and binned now.