A variety of methods are used for applying coatings to 3D parts, including spray coating or flow coating. These techniques require low viscosity coatings that, in many cases, cannot be easily achieved using a 100% UV curable system.
Addition of a small amount of organic solvents is often used to meet viscosity requirements. However, while this may not be ideal, manufacturers do not see this as an insurmountable problem by potential end users.
Manufacturers are attracted to UV curable coatings because of the performance characteristics of the finished products and the long list of advantages in the production process including:
- Improved scratch resistance
- High gloss finish to enhance metallic or other special effect finishes
- Faster cure speed for the coating (reduces surface contamination)
- Higher production throughput
- Reduced floor space for the UV curing zone
Of course, 100% solids, sprayable or flow-coatable UV curable coatings are the ultimate goal. Today there are a few such coatings already available as liquid coatings and, of course, UV powder coatings are also a route to 100% solids systems.
Hybrid coatings (combination UV and thermal) are yet another option especially suited to coating parts that have shadow areas or for retrofit situations where thermal ovens already exist. The addition of UV to a thermal curing line can significantly increase line speeds and coating quality.
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Although Heraeus Noblelight America does not sell UV curable coatings, we have contacts at many of the formulating and chemical companies and can provide you with a list of companies that may have a coating to meet your needs.
Contact us or give us a call at 301-527-2660 if you would like more information or have specific questions.