Qualification of Coating Systems and Coating Processes
The coating industry uses a wide range of coating processes and coating systems, some of which impact the environment and consume a high amount of energy. For example, VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions are harmful to human health and in combination with, for example, nitrogen oxides and strong sunlight contribute to the formation of near-ground ozone (summer smog). Also, high-quality coating processes usually involve costly systems with high consumption of energy and materials. This mostly concerns spraying methods and drying using recirculating air.
Increasing environmental awareness and stricter legislation in many countries are resulting in many solvent-based systems being replaced by environmentally friendly coatings and resource-efficient coating technologies. Important measures here are the use of coating methods with improved transfer efficiency and the use of products with a low solvent content. The latter include water-based coating systems and also solvent-free products such as powder coatings.
The introduction of environmentally friendly coating systems and energy-efficient coating methods must be carefully planned and monitored. The Paint/Lacquer Technology experts at Fraunhofer IFAM act here as an effective link between coating users, plant manufacturers, and coating suppliers. They offer the following services for effective, favorable-cost switchover to low-solvent coating systems and energy-efficient coating processes:
- Drawing up specifications, test plans, and qualification concepts
- Market research into low-solvent coating systems and powder coatings as an alternative to currently used systems
- Selection of resource-efficient coating processes
- Testing of coating systems following the specifications of the customer in the DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 accredited test laboratory at Fraunhofer IFAM
- Coating trials under practical conditions and extreme application conditions
- Determination of process windows
The switchover to water-based coatings also depends on so-called soft factors such as the skepticism of coating companies when it comes to new materials and processes. A coherent qualification concept, which includes potential problems the coating company may have, can help remove these concerns. This can be explained further in training seminars on the new coating systems and processes.