UV-Cured Finishes for Fast Production

Ultraviolet-curing finishes may be the best answer for high volume with low emissions and quick turnaround. March 30, 2008

I am a custom cabinetmaker who, in the past, has only done spraying for my business. In an attempt to keep the shop steady, work-wise, I have approached a much larger shop that does mainly commercial cabinetry and mouldings but has no finishing capabilities. I expect to be spraying orders in the neighborhood of 4,000 to 10,000 lineal feet of trim. My concern is for my and my employee's health. When not in the spraybooth, the trim will still be drying/curing and giving off VOCs. Need a good durable and reasonably priced product. I don't want callbacks due to finish failure.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
10,000 feet - how quick is the turnaround on that volume? A day - a week - a month? If short timed, I would go with a very high solids urethane that is UV curable. No, you don't need a cure booth; all you need is one set of portable UV cure lights that you can send the trim under, or set the lights on a dolly that you can move across the surface by hand. UVs now are to the point where they can be cured in seconds, not minutes, if necessary, and the off-gassing is nil, as compared to air dry systems. As soon as the coating has cooled to room temperature it can be wrapped and shipped or stored and not take up valuable floor space. Just my suggestion - I'm sure you'll get plenty more. You'll still have questions to answer about what stains/glazes/etc. will really work best for your particular situation. What I suggest works best with just clear trim or a one-step staining/dyeing process where no glaze or toner is necessary. And yes, pigmented finishes/solid color can be done with the same processes.

From Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor:
One problem with UV is that the solvent UVs should not be hand sprayed. Also if there are shadow areas as it passes under the lamps, it will not cure. I would not go with UV unless you plan on doing lots and lots of this and plan on buying the proper equipment. It does boil down to the turnaround time and what kind of performance the finish system has to have. Also, is it a "one shot" stain or color system that can be done with a spray only stain? One item to look out for is blocking. All coatings are not created equal here. Also, a coatings company may have a product that will give you quick stack and pack times. Give us some more info to help you out.

From contributor T:
Waterborne conversion varnish 0.0009 parts VOC per gallon (Renner Wood Coatings), around $35.00 a gallon. Give it a good look - it's as close to spraying a solvent as you're going to get for the price. Waterborne has come a long way.

From contributor C:
For sure, the proper equipment is necessary for UV curing of anything. Those who make the curing systems offer all that with the purchase of their equipment - how to set up and use and all else. Once you have that down it is not hard to make up a working system that you can do any type of shape or profile with, but I do agree it may be wasteful monetarily if you only need to produce 2 or 3 hundred feet a day or maybe even more, but it is better and faster than any waterborne or solvent system that's presently out there. As far as shadows go or missed spots or other anomalies, the provider of the equipment can quickly ascertain your exact needs along with your choice of finish. I would never suggest you go to the local UV lamp store and buy one and start to use it without proper understanding of all that is needed for success. But I will guarantee that if you want to finish and cure and ship 10,000 ft per day, your choices to do so - finish and cure wise - are extremely limited. Lastly, I would highly recommend you find the UV cure coating preferred first, hopefully someone like Seagraves who has invested heavily into a cure line at their facilities so they can show potential clients the types of results they will get from their products. Then once you understand the process, you can make up your own mind what would be best for you.

From contributor B:
I just looked at a new line from Fuhr Industrial. All the products they manufacture are low VOC. I was impressed with the samples that were on display. Their line covers a wide spectrum of product needs.

From contributor F:
If you're worried about health, I would definitely go with Fuhr. Many water based lacquer manufacturers use acetone among other chemicals which have no smell and are not flammable, but they do release formaldehyde while drying. Fuhr is 100% green. Although I wouldn't recommend drinking it! It's about the safest on the market so far and the quality surpasses that of any WB finishes I have seen so far.