Over 4,500 people attended the Finishing ’99 conference in Cleveland, which was sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and the Association for Finishing Processes of SME. More than 200 exhibitors displayed everything from coatings, pretreatment, equipment for application, design and systems firms, curing systems, and measurement testing equipment. The show included instructional conferences concurrently with an exposition. Many manufacturing people looking for solutions to coating and finishing problems attended.
The instructional conferences included tutorials on powder, liquid, electrocoat coatings and finishing plastics, as well as advanced topics of cost analysis, controls, appearance testing, surface preparation, and environmental and compliant systems. The conference proceedings were worth the attendance at the conferences.
One highlight of the conference was the State of the Industry report. The report was presented by four panelists representing various-sized manufacturing finishing operations and finishing needs. These were Harley Davidson, Briggs & Stratton, Navistar and Metokote. What were these end-users looking for? Quality, compliance coatings and lower costs. They were all concerned with ISO 9000 quality attainment, closely followed by concerns about the EPA regulations on VOCs and HAPs. Waste reduction was also a concern.
Interestingly, all four of the firms had either built new plants or expanded operations in the last couple of years, and are continuing to project continued growth. The booming economy continues to bless the manufacturing segment. Some of the things they are looking at are methods of reducing costs, including robotics, lower oven temperatures, along with lower costs for compliant coatings or new types of coatings that can lower their overall costs.
A plant tour was provided for interested attendees to UV Coatings Ltd., a new company specializing in 100% solids, liquid coatings, cured by ultraviolet (UV) energy. The demonstrations included the application of the coatings on wood, plastic and metal products, which were then cured in seconds using a number of different UV lamp configurations. The design of the finishing chamber permits use of UV coatings on three-dimensional objects.
The exhibit, where most of the action took place, included full-scale operations of robotics, spray finishing lines, examples of ovens, product conveying equipment, and an assortment of measurement techniques, technologies, and instruments. Emphasis by most of the exhibitors centered on providing environmentally friendly and safe processes.
The robotics demonstrated that products could be primed, painted, buffed or any other operation normally performed by a human. Alstom Paint Application Co.; ARTomation, a division of Advanced Robotics Technologies Inc.; Fanuc Robotics North America Inc.; and Thierica Equipment Co. had robots showing the range of capabilities in replacing the human element from the finishing line.
The curing processes exhibited included the traditional convection heat ovens by Feco, A Park Ohio Co. and Optimum Air Corp.; and radiation cured systems shown by Blasdel Enterprises, Catalytic Industrial Systems, Cis-Can Industries Ltd., DriQuick Inc., Eye Ultraviolet Inc., Fostoria Industries Inc., and Innovative Industries. Suppliers of newer electron beam and UV curing systems included Fusion UV Systems Inc. and Heraeus Amersil Inc. Complete finishing system designs and equipment were shown by Bethel Engineering and Fabrication Inc., General Fabrications Corp., Industrial Finishing Technologies, Nutro Corp., Ramco, and Rapid Engineering Inc.
Paint suppliers were represented by BASF Corp., Carbit Paint Co., DuPont, Kalcor Coatings Co., PPG Industries Inc., Sherwin-Williams and Spraylat. Spray equipment was shown by A.O.M. America, ITW Ransburg Electrostatic Systems, Kremlin Inc., Nordson Corp., Sprimag Inc. and Wagner Spray Tech.
The show had to be visited to appreciate the interconnectedness in the finishing industry. Manufacturers present at the show were well able to find useful information for their specific operations. Shows of this kind further the capabilities of the entire manufacturing industry by providing the information needed to properly and responsibly finish products that will be appealing to consumers.