Vacuum coating technologies for
superior transfer efficiency

Vacuum coating technology

One of the key advantages involved in vacuum application technology is the degree of transfer efficiency achieved - almost 100% - meaning close control over lacquer consumption and very little waste – all adding up to significant savings while achieving superb coating quality.

Until recently, this technology was used for edges, in terms of coating, sealing or even waterproofing. Today, we have developed vacuum application solutions for flat panels as well as edges, which can be of all shapes and sizes.

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Flat panels

Manufacturers of cabinet doors, panels and bathroom furniture will welcome the recently released vacuum application machine, Smartvacuum. Any wood or wood-based flat panel can be coated using this technology, especially those with rounded edges.

Vacuum application avoids contact between the application head and the substrate. This enables clean, efficient processing using 100% UV acrylic paint in a single pass. Up to 140 g/sqm are deposited homogeneously, thereby avoiding product build-up on any sections of the panel. The process is simple, clean, eco-friendly and cost-efficient. Flash-off is performed after basecoat application and prior to the panel completing its drying in a UV-R oven. Using a 100% solid UV product, this makes it a relatively sustainable process and the coating is more stable over time compared to polyurethane or polyester-based products.

Edges

Vacuum application machines for edges have been around for longer, some of which combine sanding operations as a complete solution. We provide 3 different systems according to specific needs.

The perfect match for Smartvacuum is Smartedge, a machine which handles straight and shaped panel edges. Featuring our patented Inert Coating technology for filling the edges of MDF or chipboard panels, it generates a smooth surface or recreates the grain effect. The vacuum system will coat any type of edge as the application head adapts to each shape. When fitted with Edge & Go, consisting of an application head with interchangeable straight or shaped slats, changing from one edge shape to the next is accomplished without turning off the vacuum tower. In terms of speed, switching from a straight edge with a 3 mm radius to a J-Pull handle edge, for example, takes less than 15 seconds.

Smartvacuum and Smartedge use the same technique and the same lacquer. That makes it simple to achieve the best junction seam between the flat surface and the edge of the panel.

Sealing solutions

Sealing operations are performed to protect the integrity of a product by ensuring the edges are not vulnerable to humidity for example, something which compromises the durability of a panel or other item.

Vacuum systems for the sealing of edges include another machine in our range: Talent is a patented solution for the sealing of the shaped edges of laminated panels, coated with quick-drying water-based products for application on various types of material. Used as a sealing technique for items found in several sectors, including panels, mouldings, fibreglass ceiling panels, polycarbonate sheets, fibre cement tiles and many other materials used in the construction industry, Talent works with water-based coatings, also suitable for UV curing, 100% UV acrylic paints, sealants (wax, paraffin, glue).

Edge impregnation

A solution dedicated to sealing the edges of panels is required when the risk of water penetrating the panel is an issue. In certain instances, cabinet doors, but more frequently panels for flooring applications will need to have their edges well sealed so as to avoid quality decreasing over time. Hybrid implements a patented*  technique to impregnate the panel edge with a special UV polyurethane glue to protect against humidity and other harmful elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which substrate materials are suitable for vacuum coating?

Vacuum coating is suitable for wood and its derivatives, metal, plasterboard, composite materials and PVC profiles.

This technology is perfect for the coating of…?

This technology is ideal when coating lineal profiles in high volumes, achieving high levels of production efficiency.

What are the advantages of vacuum coating?

This technology has many benefits. To start with, transfer efficiency reaches an astonishing 99%. Vacuum coaters have a limited footprint, so they occupy little factory space. Production efficiency is optimised because by using a vacuum coater, 360° sanding, coating and curing of a profile is dealt with in a single pass. Overspray is absent and the process is environmentally friendly. Coating thicknesses are high and, for example, can reach 700 µm on glass wool panels.

How can I measure coating quality?

This is an aspect that can primarily be evaluated subjectively. However, where rigidity is a required characteristic of the coated object, this technology enables high coating layer thicknesses (e.g. 700 g/m2 in the case of ceiling tiles) by using paints with 80% solids, leading to further benefits in terms of reduced drying costs. Constant coating thickness is also a key quality achieved with vacuum coating techniques, even in the case of complex profiles.

What are the consumption factors I need to take into account in a vacuum coating process?

The factors will depend on whether you are using UV-curable coating or water-based coating. UV Vacuum Coaters apply between 25 and 75 µm (1 to 3 mills) of coating per pass, whereas WB Vacuum Coaters apply between 25 and 150 µm (1 to 6 mills) of coating per pass. You will also need to consider electrical energy consumption and compressed air consumption.

What are the size limitations for pieces that will be vacuum coated?

The minimum length is 915 mm (36”) and the maximum width is 305 mm (12”). Any size between these two limits is possible.

How long does it take to clean a vacuum machine?

Cleaning times vary according to the size of the machine and the type of paint being used. Water-based paints require less time than viscous UV lacquers. On average, when changing profiles, it will take between 10 and 15 minutes. If you are also required to change colour, this will take up to 30 minutes.

Can coating consumption be controlled?

Yes. By adjusting the template opening, vacuum pressure and speed of the coating line, you can control the coating thickness, thereby affecting coating consumption. Paint viscosity is temperature-controlled in the case of UV lacquers and according to the formulation of water-based paints. This also affects overall consumption.

What do I need apart from the vacuum coating machine to complete the process?

To make the process smoother, you can add infeed and outfeed conveyors. In any case, our solution is a fully integrated one comprising material preparation, application and drying. Edge-coating units are often installed in existing double-end tenoners for more precise workpiece guidance and consequent absence of overspray.

How flexible is the machine?

As vacuum coating is suited for large volumes of the same or similar type of profile, flexibility is not a key feature of machine or process. When the profile changes, the user simply has to change the template or painting head.

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