‘Don’t wait to paint’ with UV primer-surfacer curing equipment
Delray Beach, Fla.—If a shop could deliver up to two more cars per day using its existing footprint, it might consider changing its priming processes to the latest in ultraviolet primers and curing lamps. It’s a combination that increases shop throughput and with lower energy and labor costs.
First introduced to the automotive refinish market as aerosols best suited for spot repairs, today’s UV primers can now be sprayed through a gun, and combined with high-powered lamps, can replace urethane primer surfacers for even large automotive surfaces. SPDI UV’s latest equipment, the compact cart-mounted UV FastLane 2K, cures coatings as thick as 12 mils in a matter of seconds with its irradiator wand.
“It’s the one element that takes the most mismanaged, bottlenecked process and converts it to the most streamlined, efficient, and repeatable process,” said John Wilson, president of SPDI UV.
The company, founded in 1992, serves a wide a variety of industries and has developed UV-curing systems for uses such as printing on plastic food containers, finishes on new guitars, and refinishing luxury jet interiors for a quick turnaround with a superior finish, so the technology has been proven before SPDI UV turned its attention to the collision refinishing market.
For those looking at adding a prep station to increase throughput, Wilson said they can instead add this system, with “no shrinkage and no surprises,” he said.
Because automotive UV primer surfacers, available from several major manufacturers, are applied ready-to-spray, there is no chance of a mix ratio error, and there is no pot life (similar to old-technology lacquer primer surfacers), so the body technician or painter no longer has to pause after each application to clean a gun. That also means the primer can be applied as needed for each job, instead of waiting to mix up a batch to apply to a group of cars (say, at the end of the day). That, and the ability to turn around quick repairs, are why a nationally known used-car retailer installs a UV FastLane 2K in each of its reconditioning centers, he said.
UV primers are high-solids products that apply like a conventional urethane primer, although they’re slightly more transparent. The complete through cure means there won’t be a comeback months down the road from sand scratches or other defects revealed when the product finally cures.
“‘Done is done,’ is what I hear a lot of guys say. The cure is 100 percent.”
Power and size are key to through-cure
Compared to other curing equipment, the 220V-powered UV FastLane 2K offers more power with portability, Wilson said, with 100 times the UV intensity of even “Mother Nature” in Arizona, Florida, or New Mexico, and free from disruptions from rain, clouds, or shadows. Even larger handheld LED UV lamps are only one-eighth of the power, with a round beam that may be more difficult to tell where it’s been aimed, and if a complete cure has been achieved, with at least 30 seconds required per spot. Bulky, stand-mounted UV lights are only one-quarter the power and can be awkward to relocate to cure larger areas.
In contrast, the handheld SPDI UV wand can be moved 10 to 15 feet per minute, which means only a few seconds per spot are required. The technique is easily learned, he said, and to help train, SPDI UV also includes the patented UV Cure Technique Visualizer Trainer, which features large, clear instructions showing the ideal technique of holding the “wand” three to four inches from the surface and to take three seconds to move it from point A to B, using 25 percent overlapping passes for the six-inch light path.
Because technicians have varying techniques, the unit is actually built overpowered to ensure through-cure, he said, although it will not scorch a repair area — as some infrared lamps can — if it is left on an area too long.
After practice, color-changing strips on the disposable paper pad gradually turn from yellow to green to indicate a successful result. And when the technician is ready to actually cure primer, color-changing tabs are placed on the repair area’s masking tape to further reinforce that proper technique was observed.
“It takes a novice to professional in 30 minutes or less,” he said.
Safety requires a few precautions
Just as personal protective equipment is required for welding or applying primer, it is required for UV-curing: the operator must wear a Tyvek or similar coverall, deerhide or similar gloves, and a No. 5 or darker face shield. “Spectators,” such as those learning the process as close as three or four feet, must wear a UV face shield or dark UV glasses. Because UV diminishes across distance, other shop personnel from across the room are protected by wearing common protective shop glasses, (meeting ANSI Z87.1-2010 or greater standards), although SPDI recommends welding curtains be used for permanent installations.
View our video demo on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVH6eN5V1w8