Similarities and Differences between UV coatings and other types of coatings

Even though UV curing has been used commercially for over thirty years (it is the standard coating method for compact disk screen printing and lacquering for example), UV coatings are still relatively new and growing. UV liquids are being used on plastic cell phone cases, PDAs and other handheld electronic devices. UV powder coatings are being used on medium density fiberboard furniture components. While there are many similarities with other types of coatings, there are also some key differences.

Similarities and Differences

One similarity is that typically, UV coatings are applied in much the same way as other coatings. A UV liquid coating may be applied via spray, dip, roller coating, etc., and UV powder coatings are electrostatically sprayed. However, because UV energy must penetrate the entire coating thickness, it becomes more important to apply a consistent thickness for complete cure. Many UV coating processes incorporate automated spray or other techniques to ensure this consistency of application. Though this may require the addition of application equipment, remember that your end product quality will be more consistent and that you will be using and wasting less coating material with an automated system.

Unlike most conventional coatings, many UV coatings – both liquid and powder – can be reclaimed. This is because the UV coatings will not begin curing until exposed to the UV energy. So as long as the paint area is maintained well and kept clean, this can be a huge savings. Another difference to consider is that UV curing is line of sight, meaning that the entire surface area being coated must be exposed to the UV energy. For very large parts or complicated three-dimensional parts UV curing may not be possible or cannot be economically justified. However, great strides have been made in recent years developing new techniques, and modeling software is even available to help optimize the number of UV systems and simulate the most efficient cure process for three-dimensional parts