The winning combination for flat panels:
Smartedge and Smartvacuum

flat panel

Finding a way to match the finishing quality of your flat surface with the edge, especially when the market is looking for rounded edges and flat surfaces as part of the latest furniture trends, means you need to consider using the same paint and the same technique. Until today, this was just theoretical, but since we introduced Smartvacuum to combine with Smartedge, our vacuum coating solution for edges, it is now a reality.

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Sustainable and cost-efficient

Depending on the production volumes, there are different solutions to coat the surface and edge of a panel using vacuum application technologies. Outputs up to 1500 cabinet doors/shift can be handled with an island-type process dealing with:

  • melamine sanding
  • flat surface coating (Smartvacuum)
  • edge coating (Smartedge)
  • sanding prior to finishing

In-line processes are better for outputs exceeding 3000 cabinet doors/shift and can be either:

  • melamine sanding
  • panel surfaces coated in the Smartvacuum area
  • panel edges coated in a 2-step process with Smartedge
  • sanding prior to finishing

or for 6000 cabinet doors/shift as follows:

  • melamine sanding
  • in-line flat surface coating (Smartvacuum)
  • all 4 panel edges coated using Smartedge
  • sanding prior to finishing

Both Smartvacuum and Smartedge use 100% UV acrylic paints, avoiding release of solvents into the atmosphere. Processing times are reduced compared to alternative application technologies and less space is taken up by these machines.

Focusing on the edge coating process, we have developed patented solutions for Smartedge which are unrivalled on the market. EDGE&GO enables line operators to switch from one edge geometry/thickness to the next in no more than 15 seconds.

The dual function sanding unit for vertical corners with a radius and the flat section of a J-pull ensures compliance with the original radius and sanding of the excess product at the leading and trailing end of the handle.

The paint removal and panel cleaning unit seals the melamine between the flat part and the edge, recovers excess applied product and creates a perfectly flat panel surface. This prolongs the life of the abrasive paper in contact sanding machines, as wear is homogeneous over the whole surface.

Learn more on Smartvacuum in this webinar.

The combination of Smartvacuum and Smartedge finally allows companies to streamline their coating process using the same technique and delivering the same top quality all round. It avoids pollution compared to spraying lacquers with solvents, it speeds up the process, reducing the handling necessities and, above all, cuts costs significantly.

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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