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UV-Cured Primer System Successful in Bodyshops
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UV-Cured Primer System Successful in Bodyshops

UV-Coating and Curing System Receives ‘Thumbs Up’ from Customers.

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UV-Cured Primer System Successful in Bodyshops

UV-Coating and Curing System Receives ‘Thumbs Up’ from Customers.

The use of UV primers and curing systems is still in the infancy stage in the automotive refinish industry, commonly referred to as the paint body and equipment (PBE) market. However, success stories are beginning to be told as product placement increases and users have had the time necessary to analyze the benefits of the technology.

The speed of the UV system allows the technician to prime and cure quickly ensuring customer delivery expectations are met. Where used, the UV system replaced 2-K primers, which are two-component urethane and isocyanate solvent-based chemistry.

Applications

The low-intensity UV-curing lamp combined with the easy to use aerosol primer is ideal for fast repair on small spot jobs and bumper repair. The lamp will cure an area of up to 16-inch diameter in two minutes making the system ideal to address small dent and scratch repairs, which are common in every shop. UV technology has added a big boost to the efficiency and profitability of repairing scratches on plastic bumpers.
The use of this system has also proved beneficial when small imperfections are found just prior to final painting. The speed of the UV system allows the technician to prime and cure quickly ensuring customer delivery expectations are met. Where used, the UV system replaced 2-K primers, which are two-component urethane and isocyanate solvent-based chemistry.

How It Works

  • The UV-cured primer is sprayed to cover the damaged area.
  • A low-energy UV lamp is used to cure the primer.
  • The uncured layer of the UV primer should be thoroughly removed.
  • The worker sands the repair as usual.

The UV-cured Primer is sprayed to cover the working area

Benefits

Speed is the obvious initial benefit realized with the UV system. Customers state that the timesaving with the UV-cured primer is a primary driver in the decision process to invest in the system. Timesaving ranges from 25-88% (2-3 hours to 6-10 minutes) compared to the typical 2-K-primer process used in similar applications. Typically, priming with 2-K primer requires longer preparation time, spray time and clean up time when compared to the same job application using a UV product. There is no mixing time with the aerosol UV primer used. Materials used in the preparation of 2-K applications such as mixing cups, mixing sticks are eliminated and masking is reduced. During the actual paint process, 2-K primers require up to three or four coats, with flash times in between for proper build. This is not the case with the UV primer, which has high-build characteristics with shorter flash time. Clean up with the UV primer is much faster than 2-K clean up since spray gun cleaning is not necessary and the waste associated with cleaning solvents and over mixes of catalyzed 2-K
product is eliminated. Although the timesaving is significant, it is not the only benefit experienced in the bodyshop environment. With any new investment, the question of return on investment (ROI) is a normal business evaluation. In the bodyshop market, this is not always a simple process. Procedures utilized to evaluate ROI are usually somewhat subjective to varying level of cost analysis practices.

The benefits of using UV Primer include:

  • Cost reduction in material savings regarding waste and waste management. Most bodyshops are considered generators of hazardous waste because any leftover paint from a job must be handled and disposed of according to existing regulations. This is an additional cost of operation to the shop. UV coatings lower the shops generating level and liability exposure associated with hazardous waste management, resulting in reduced operational costs.
  • Increased turnover of vehicles.
  • Less masking. Less preparation and clean up required.
  • On bumper repairs or bare metal, there is no need for adhesion promoters resulting in cost savings.
  • Less overspray and better transfer efficiency.
  • Excellent sandability and feathering.
  • No VOC emissions. Positive contribution to environmental and health concerns.
  • High film builds with more material staying on the repair surface.
  • No window between coats (normally 5-10 minutes).
  • No shrinkage—a major concern in bodyshops.
  • Faster cycle time for customers and related sales benefits.
  • No heat on panel. No outgasing on SMC (sheet molding compound)/ BMC (bulk molding compound) composite panels.
  • Reduction of natural gas cost associated with spraybooth operation. The electrically powered lamp, cost less than one euro per hour to operate versus a typical cost of 30€/hour to run a heated downdraft booth.
  • More efficient use of shop space since the UV primer can be applied virtually anywhere in the shop. The curing lamp is easily moved to any location on the bodyshop production floor, reducing bottlenecking at the paint booths.
  • Overspray is reduced, which in turn reduces the need to “contain the mess.”

The driving factors pertaining to the curing lamp investment included footprint size (curing area), mobility, reliability, and easy storage features. The UV-curing lamp when analyzed properly over the existing systems involved no more investment then the 2-K curing system. Investors in this technology agree that the benefit of meeting customer delivery promises has a positive effect on cash flow and profitability. Operating efficiencies and capacity output increase as scheduling and turnover time become more manageable adding to bottom line retention.

VOC Regulations/ Environmental Issues

The use of UV technology does have definite environmental advantages over solvent-based chemistry. In the PBE market, meeting existing and future VOC and EPA regulations is a constant concern. While current cost of meeting regulations may vary from one geographical jurisdiction to another, there is little debate that future regulations will dictate stricter enforcement and added management cost. The lack or reduction of VOC in UV coatings will have a positive effect on material and management costs. Lower VOC emissions allow the shop to promote a more “environmentally friendly” image to the general public; a strong marketing spin for aggressive shops. Internally, the shop atmosphere becomes safer and healthier as the use of UV coatings and curing systems grow. This is substantial in the PBE market where the hiring and retention of qualified technicians is becoming increasingly more challenging.

Future Requests

At the moment, UV technology in the PBE market is limited to spot priming. Participants in the market place are anxious for the next generation of product to become available. The number one request was for UV coatings to be available in a sprayable format that can be used with existing spray equipment. This would allow for larger coverage areas.

As the technology evolves in meeting future demands, larger curing lamps will be required. It is mandatory that the curing and coating technologies develop simultaneously in order to penetrate the market.

Conclusion

The use of UV-coating and curing systems has seen moderate growth in the PBE market to date. As new product offerings enter the market, as they are expected to do, user awareness levels will increase as well as levels of serious involvement. New technology in the PBE market, although sometimes slow to change direction, is always stimulated by the amount of product choices available.
The urethane paint technology commonly used in the PBE market, did not establish a strong market position until it was universally available from most major suppliers in the market place. The old lacquer paint systems held a share position longer than anticipated, but eventually fell to the success created with basecoat/ clearcoat systems.
The same scenario could be said of UV technology in the PBE market of the future. Existing and future improvements in UV-coating and curing systems are on the frontline of a constantly changing automotive repair industry.


(Summarized by: "UV-Cured Primer System Successful in Bodyshops", Radtech Report, November/December 2003 issue)

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