Plasma pretreatment and UV-curable powder coatings afford new opportunities for the coatings industry. Energy consumption is mostly determined by vehicle weight. With the rise of electric vehicles, lightweighting is becoming increasingly important throughout the automotive industry. This calls for new pretreatment methods and finishes for the lightweight materials employed which this article will discuss.
Plastics and composite materials are difficult to finish due to their low surface energy, surface contamination and heat sensitivity. Using plasma treatment, it is possible to prepare and clean plastic and composite materials, and make them ready for finishing. The results of this study demonstrate that heat-sensitive substrates like plastics and composites can be prepared with plasma treatment and successfully coated with UV-cured powder.
Over time words, their meaning, and how they are used change. Until recently, “lightweight” was an adjective generally meaning something weighing less than average or used to describe something or someone as trivial, inconsequential, or insignificant. Lightweight, and its verb form “lightweighting,” are now used to describe a material transformation occurring in the aerospace, automotive, and mass transit industries, collectively called the transportation industry.
Ultraviolet (UV) curing of coatings is a proven technology and offers a practical and profitable alternative to traditional curing. UV light has been used to cure coatings for more than 30 years, and companies have been successfully using UV-cured powder coatings for more than 20 years. UV-cured powder coatings can replace solvent liquid coating (in some cases thermoset powder coating) and are a finishing material of interest for many new materials and products.
Plasma treatment is used to modify and improve the surface conditions of various materials. The use of plasma technology on plastic and composite carbon substrates enables these heat-sensitive materials to be successfully coated with ultraviolet (UV) curable powder coatings. Plasma treatment of a part raises its surface energy and removes contaminants. The increase in surface energy enhances the level of surface wetting, which correlates to improved coating adhesion. There are various conditions and processing variables that can be manipulated to increase the effectiveness of plasma treatment of a material surface.
Incremental improvement in chemistry is the expected innovation driver in the coatings industry. This is innovation through manipulation of resins, formulations, additives or a combination of all three to address a known limitation or performance deficiency. These types of innovation allow the user or coating applicator to continue to use the same application process and or equipment. For the most part these chemistry incremental improvements have brought only short term differentiation and marginal gains to the coatings industry. The coating industry is faced with multiple challenges; regulatory requirements to eliminate solvents, price and product commoditization, and consolidation.
The growing demand for radiation cured coatings brings into focus the significant economic, environmental and process benefits of UV-curing. UV-cured powder coatings fully capture this trio of benefits. Energy costs will continue to increase, the demand for “green” solutions will continue unabated and consumers will always demand “new and improved” product and performance. Markets reward firms that are innovative and adopt new technologies and incorporate these technological advantages into their products and or processes.
The global population in 2012 was 6 Billion. ln 2030 it will grow to 7.4 billion¹. There will be 3 billion more middle class consumers by 2030¹ . China and India will build new homes for 600 million people between 2010- 2030¹. In 2012 the global motor vehicle production has reached 51.7 million units. And in 2030 the estimated global motor vehicle production in 80.6 million units.
Although there has been no positive response to the benefits of UV-curable powder coatings in Europe and other industrialized regions globally, despite the genuine advantages of higher profits and significant energy savings of this coatings technology, which could meet the real needs of industrial coating applicators as they struggle as they struggle to survive in this era of fierce price cutting competition, this can only result in the demise of many small to medium sized trade coaters and OEM manufacturers.
UV-curable coating technology is increasingly being seen as the future technology in the area of industrial coatings. The technology represents one of the rapidly growing segments in the coatings industry, and is arguably emerging as the answer to the rising environmental concerns and stringent regulations. Several application-related advantages come to serve the technology that include absence of pot life issues, lower energy costs, fast cure speed, and reduced environmental impact.
UV-cured powder coating technology is a rapidly growing segment of the coatings industry and is emerging as the answer to rising environmental concerns and stringent regulations on coating processes. The technology has lower energy costs, one of the fastest cure speeds and offers a reduced environmental impact. These are just a few reasons why one should strongly consider using UV-curable powder coatings.
Customers are demanding products and services that cost less and add value. Innovating providers of services and manufacturers of products recognize the importance and challenge of simultaneously adding value and reducing costs; not as opposing or conflicting goals, but as profit opportunities. UV-cured powder coating meets the innovator’s challenge. UV-cured powder coating combines chemistry and curing technology, and is both value adding and cost reducing.
Longtime readers of UV Spectrum may recall that a company called Decorative Veneer installed the first North American UV powder coating line for medium density fiberboard (MDF) in April 2001. The UV business was spun off as an independent company named DVUV in 2005. We recently spoke with DVUV to find out how the UV powder business has changed and how they are doing, especially during this recession.
Market opportunities for UV-cured powder coatings continue to expand as external drivers focus consumers of OEM coatings to seek new materials and application technologies. Industrial material consumers and processors make material and technological investment and buying decisions based upon a complex set of internal and external criteria.