Ultraviolet (UV) curing technology is very common in Northern European markets thanks to the many advantages it offers, mainly focused on bodyshops where the volume of work is high. Below you will find some important information about UV curing that we are sure will be of great use to you.
Ultraviolet curing technology VS traditional curing
As we know, the drying of paints used in the automotive industry has traditionally been carried out through physical drying, when the product cures through the evaporation of its solvents, or through chemical drying, when a certain proportion of a chemical reagent, called a hardener, is added to the paint, which initiates the drying process when it comes into contact with the paint. Both technologies are characterized by the need for a more or less prolonged drying time, ranging from a few minutes to hours.
If we consider that different products with this particular characteristic will be used throughout the repair, it is easy to understand that the repair time during which the vehicle will remain in the bodyshop will inevitably be prolonged. This represents an organizational challenge for the bodyshop (more complex planning, larger facilities, etc.) and a service challenge for the customer (availability of replacement vehicles, increased work pressure so as not to delay delivery of the vehicle more than is strictly necessary, etc.).
As such, UV curing technology is a particularly useful, fast and efficient drying system for bodyshops where there is a high workload and where speed of repair is of the utmost importance without compromising quality.
As its name indicates, in these types of paints, curing occurs through a photochemical reaction when they come into contact with UV light. Products that use this technology contain special pigments, called photoinitiators, which react with the light to produce a highly effective curing process that takes just one minute, depending on the UV lamp used.
This feature means that the typical pauses required after the application of traditional drying paints are significantly reduced, allowing the repair process to be carried out without interruption until the application of the topcoat paints.
The following are also important characteristics of this technology:
- At present, the most common UV curing products available on the market with this technology are putties and primers.
- Formats are marketed for application by spatula (in the case of putty) by aerosol and by spray gun (in the case of primers).
- They are user-friendly and are supplied ready-to-use, which improves sustainability and reduces waste.
- They provide a good topcoat and enable dry coats to be obtained with a thickness of up to 120 microns in the case of primers.
- They reduce the number of products needed, as neither hardeners nor reducers are used.
- They are cost-effective, particularly in small and medium-sized repairs, known as spot repairs.
- They can be applied on different metallic and plastic substrates (using an adhesion promoter before applying the primer).
- They eliminate the risk of “shrinkage”, as they contain practically no reducers meaning that the solids content is very high.
- They reduce energy consumption due to the reduced use of extraction equipment, such as the paint booth, and drying equipment, such as infrared.
- They improve customer service by reducing the time the vehicle spends in the bodyshop.
- They help to reduce bottlenecks and saturation of bodyshop facilities.
- Worker health risks are reduced in relation to other types of paints as they contain a very low level of VOCs. Nevertheless, certain items of PPE, such as masks and goggles (essential when using the UV lamp), should still be used.
UV solutions, ultra-fast repairs
UV curing technology has drastically reduced drying times. This results in a significant reduction in demand on the traditional drying booth, allowing the bodyshop to carry out more repairs in a working day. For this reason, UV products are ideal for bodyshops that have a high turnover, with a high volume of small and medium-sized repairs.