AkzoNobel's keen eye for targeting innovative, sustainable technology has resulted in the launch of a pioneering automotive spray gun that can paint and cure at the same time. Co-developed by AkzoNobel's Car Refinishes businesses, the UV LED spray gun – being introduced to the European market this month – ensures a nearly instant cure of the company's Sikkens Autoclear UV clearcoat.
The hand-held device has energy-efficient UV LEDs (ultraviolet light emitting diodes) fitted around the spray nozzle, which enable the curing process to begin the instant the paint comes into contact with the repaired surface. Developed in partnership with Belgian company EREA, it offers major energy-saving and process speed benefits to bodyshop customers.
"This is truly a breakthrough development, which underlines our ongoing commitment to embedding sustainability into our innovation and technology," says Leif Darner, AkzoNobel's Board member responsible for Performance Coatings. "Not only will the UV LED spray gun help to drive greater profitability for our customers, but it also proves how sustainability can simultaneously enhance our own competitive position and provide solutions that ensure long-term viability for our bodyshop partners."
Using the UV LED spray gun involves no warm-up time, so up to 25 percent less energy is used during the total repair – traditional bodyshop operations use ovens that have to be maintained at curing temperatures. These faster drying times, combined with greater flexibility and no need for a separate drying unit, mean there is huge potential for higher throughput and greater productivity.
"The system eliminates half of the process steps," adds Jim Rees, Managing Director of AkzoNobel Car Refinishes. "What we've managed to do is to combine two innovations, one involving a new technology for paint, and one involving the tools for applying the paint. The feedback we've had so far has been fantastic and I'm optimistic that this system will open the door to further opportunities."
AkzoNobel has patented the UV LED spray gun technology and will market the product, which EREA will manufacture, under the AkzoNobel and EREA brand.