For a company to thrive in this era of global competition, embracing modernization in the production facility is vital. Manufacturing processes must be lean and flexible, able to achieve maximum production efficiency as well as meet ever-increasing ‘green’ regulations. The challenge facing current business leadership in balancing these factors can be daunting, if not wholly overwhelming.
The UV 3D Finishing System from Prime Heat, Inc. is designed to cure water-based ultraviolet coatings on three-dimensional products in a single pass. Until now, water-based UV coatings had to be used only on flat-line conveyors, requiring the product to be disassembled, run in pieces through a system and then reassembled once dry. This can take up to six passes, and the system must be flushed every time a color or coating is changed. Using a UV 3D cell, however, fully assembled products, such as chairs, or desks, can be completely cured using minimal labor in as little as five to eight minutes, depending on the UV coating supplier.
An Efficient System
Utilizing two Fanuc M-10 robotic arms equipped with UV lamps, a product is quickly processed through the system. After being loaded, the automated cart the product rides on, the PC3, moves through the spray booth, then into a halogen oven to remove moisture from the coating, and along the line until it reaches the UV 3D cell where it communicates its readiness to the robot. Cameras mounted above then allow the robots to recognize and differentiate products, even if slightly offset, to run the correct program. This process can all be monitored remotely from anywhere in the world, and Prime Heat can remotely assist in the creation of new programs as well. The cell’s small factory footprint of approximately 12'′ by 16'′ allows it to easily be incorporated into existing Prime Heat lines or expanded upon, and its efficiency reduces the labor needed to produce quality finishes.
The ultraviolet coatings used with UV 3D are a large part of that efficiency. The current generation of water-based finishes is both zero-VOC ‘green’-certified and comparable to polyurethanes in hardness. Additionally, water-based UV requires less power to cure and less labor to sand, while being less volatile than a comparable polyurethane coating. Zero-VOC UV powder coatings can also be used for some applications, and they offer even faster curing times. In this era of increased awareness of environmental impact, the choice between UV or polyurethane is exceedingly obvious.
The UV 3D Finishing System is a game changer on the finishing room floor. It offers less hassle than building up and breaking down product, and frees employees to work on other facets of manufacturing a quality product. And its certified environmentally friendly coatings are less volatile and easier to use than polyurethanes.