Hard-core benefits from the new soft roller

Roller coating technologies have evolved significantly over the last two decades and the recent introduction of a new soft application roller onto the finishing industry’s most advanced roller coating equipment, Smartcoater PRO, has brought about several benefits, enabling companies to achieve important savings especially with regard to the coating of raised panels, such as kitchen cabinet doors.

Smartcoater PRO is built with 4 screw jacks which ensure a rigid, stable structure for the application roller which applies constant, firm pressure to panels transiting through the machine. Thanks to the pneumatic floating system which can be integrated, the application head moves side to side, following irregularities and compensating for poorly calibrated flat panels. This enables coating consistency and reduces the chance of rejects if quality standards are not reached.

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Featuring the latest innovation, a soft rubber application roller, Smartcoater PRO acquires even more interesting capabilities: roller coating raised panels.

The benefits, one by one.

Apart from facilitating a continuous production flow without the need to stop for non-calibrated panels, in general terms there are numerous benefits ranging from production capacity and efficiency to reduced costs and environmental benefits.

Until recently, base coats and top coats were applied to raised panels using spray coating equipment. This usually means three-phase coating with sanding operations between the two base coats and manual intervention, loading and unloading at each step of the process.

Thanks to the soft roller on Smartcoater PRO, the coating process for raised panels is shortened. The ability to apply a base coat to grooves up to 10 mm in depth on a raised panel allows companies to install hybrid finishing lines made up of two roller coating stations and a spray coating machine for the top coat. Here are some of the many benefits:

  • transfer efficiency on the roller coaters is superior, thereby reducing lacquer consumption
  • absence of an intermediate sanding operation between base coats means lower operating costs, fewer abrasives, less manual labour connected with this operation
  • with less lacquer consumption comes a drop in solvent consumption, leading to lower emissions as well as lower direct solvent costs
  • fewer passes through the line – just 2 instead of 3 – limits the handling operations which in turn reduces the risks of damage to finished products
  • fewer passes also speed up production and reduce lead times

Production speeds increase in all instances.

Whereas base coats for a matt finish may only need one application layer on a roller coater, followed by the spray coater for the top coat, it is advisable to apply 2 layers of the base coat for a glossy finish. This is made possible by using two Smartcoaters in a row on the hybrid line. Whichever scenario, time is reduced either by reducing the number of base coats (matt finish) or implementing consecutive base coat application which applies a second layer prior to the top coat.

Sustainability and savings go hand in hand.

Of course, it takes more than a soft rubber roller to generate significant savings and increase the overall sustainability of the coating process. The engineering skills and laboratory tests run to investigate all production scenarios have led to a system which is unmatched in terms of its quality and sustainability.

Savings on lacquer consumption range between 3 and 25% in terms of the quantity used (consequently affecting solvent quantity as well) and this represents anything up to 1 euro per square metre.

Less solvent means lower costs, but also leads to a healthier working environment for operators and fewer worries about harmful emissions affecting the planet.

The new level of efficiency also reduces the workload to employees with fewer handling necessities involved.

In conclusion, the soft roller increases production capacity, reduces processing times, saves money and respects the environment.

So soft that it’s hard to beat!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which materials are suitable for roller coating?

All materials are. The only requirement is to have a flat surface.

Examples of products suitable for roller coating:

  • cabinet doors
  • parquet
  • doors

Examples of materials suitable for roller coating:

  • wood and wood-based materials
  • glass
  • cork
  • plastic
  • fibre cement
  • metal
  • roll-to-roll for edges etc.
What are the advantages of roller coating?

High flexibility in terms of output rate and choice of cycles/processes according to the line make-up.

Zero solvent emissions thanks to 95% use of products with high dry residue (UV) content.

Possibility of using the roller technique for any application on all flat surfaces.

How can I rate the quality of roller coating?

The quality of the paint finish is highly subjective. However, opacity and gloss, and obviously, the degree of application, can all be rated.

What consumption values should be considered?

Coating product consumption and consumption of solvents required for cleaning the machines in the coating line should certainly be considered and evaluated. Each step of the roller coating process must be monitored in terms of the quantity applied, for each individual machine. Quantities, in fact, may vary according to the type of substrate treated.

Can I also coat shaped panels with a roller?

Today, thanks to the SmartCoater PRO series and the choice of specially designed rollers, in some cases it is possible to apply UV primers on cabinet doors and specially shaped doors. This refers to primer application. After the intermediate sanding phase, finishing is carried out with spray coating machines.

Can I have a roller coating machine and a spray coating machine in the same line?

Yes. It often happens to have coating lines consisting of roller coating machines for primer/insulating product application followed by spray coating machines for finishing.

How long does it take to clean a machine?

The average time required to clean a roller coating machine was 20 minutes. A critical variable was the use of clear or pigmented coats. Today, with our new semi-automatic system, considerably less time is needed for an operator to carry out cleaning. Additionally, the consumption of solvents is heavily reduced, with resulting advantages in terms of efficiency and sustainability also in the roller coating process.

Can paint consumption be controlled?

An automatic system is being developed, designed to monitor the parameters relating to the consumption of coating products also in roller coating machines. 

How many workers are needed to operate a coating line?

The number of operators required for the correct operation of a roller coating line depends on the complexity and length of the line. We can reasonably expect that 2-3 people will be needed to work on the line.

Is it better to coat or laminate surfaces?

Lamination and roller coating are two different processes. A coated product is generally considered more sophisticated than a product laminated with paper or plastic film. Laminating a panel is practical when we have to process small production batches.

Roller coating, on the other hand, is definitely more cost-effective to treat matt or glossy methacrylate sheets.

Is a coating machine very maintenance-intensive?

No. The most delicate part is the rubber roller which will have to be surface-ground or re-coated. There are also normal wear parts that need to be replaced: scrapers, pumps, etc.

Is there a locally based maintenance service for my roller coating line?

Our international network of distributors and branch facilities is widespread globally, and most likely, you'll easily find the right contact in your own country. Otherwise, in just a few days we will send spare parts and technicians straight from our headquarters.

In the roller coating process, are the edges also coated?

Roller coating machines can only coat flat surfaces. There are some special cases in which a special machine with a soft roller can be used to coat bevelled parts, too. This is the case for example with the beveled side of parquet flooring, where the bevel reaches up to 4 mm.

What finishes can I achieve using roller coating lines?

Thanks to roller coating technologies, various degrees of finish can be obtained, either clear or pigmented, matt, semi-gloss or glossy. Additionally, since the roller lines are made up of a number of applications, aluminium dioxide- or corundum-based coats can be applied in order to achieve high surface abrasion strength.

What do I need besides the roller coating machine in my line?

Downstream from each roller painting machine, a gelling/drying oven is needed. It can be either a UV or a hot air oven according to the type of coat applied. In addition, machines for sanding primer coats, brushing machines for cleaning the panels and conveying machines along the line are needed.

How can I increase the output rate of my coating line?

On roller coating lines, it is quite simple. Depending on the output demand, we can calculate the line speed and then decide how many UV lamps are needed to be able to gel or dry the finish coats at that precise speed. This helps to respond effectively to required changes in output rate.

What is the degree of flexibility of the roller coating machine?

The machines are flexible both in terms of product quantities to be applied, and in terms of versatiliy - being suitable for different applications, at various locations along the line.

What aspects of sustainability are covered by roller coating?

In roller coating machines, 100% UV acrylic products, as well as water-based products, can be used resulting in a highly sustainable finishing process.

Can I manage colour changeover in roller coating machines?

Yes. Normally, on small, low-output lines, the machines are flushed to carry out colour changeover. Otherwise, multipurpose machines are added to the lines to be able to manage colour changes very quickly.

Can I easily manage the programming of my workpieces?

In this respect, a roller coating line ensures maximum flexibility. It enables to process any panel shape, also in random order - as long as all the panels have the same thickness.

Are any service packages available for my roller coating machine/line?

Yes. A whole range of UBIQUO service packages is available for this equipment as well as for other finishing solutions.


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