Infrared vs Ultraviolet (UV) Coating Curing Ovens
When it comes to rapidly curing a products coating two of the quickest options are Ultraviolet and Infrared curing. Both applications have benefits and drawbacks which you should evaluate when considering to determine which may be right for you. By determining the priorities of your application you can better evaluate which application is right for you.
Both infrared and Ultraviolet depend on electromagnetic energy to cure products. Infrared is a longer wavelength than ultraviolet, and in general energy (in this case heat) increases as wavelength decreases. Infrared has a variety of unique benefits, which are summarized below.
• Doesn’t heat the products substrate – By using radiation to accelerate curing the products surface is left free from heat. This can be beneficial when you want to cure a substrate quickly but temp elevation is problematic (like in wood curing or plastics)
• Lower Cost to operate – Infrared ovens do not typically require any special coatings (except they are limited by coatings that have high reflectivity) ; this keeps overall coating costs down
• Relatively rapid curing – Infrared Curing is fast; usually taking minutes to cure the majority of products, but it is not the fastest
• More readily implemented – Infrared technology is available by a number of manufacturers including companies we partner with like BGK.
• Not as fast as UV – Since Infrared has longer wavelengths it is not as fast as ultraviolet
• Trouble with recessed areas – Infrared ovens cure what the rays can contact which can be problematic when dealing with a product with a lot of recessed areas
• Longer ovens typically than Ultraviolet – Due to being a slightly lower efficiency they will typically be a bit longer than an ultraviolet oven
Infrared Curing Common Applications
• Powder coating
• Rapid curing of coatings in automotive, wood, and fabrication facilities
Ultra violet ovens use a shorter wavelength than Infrared and offer different benefits than infrared as well.
Ultraviolet Curing Pros
• Speed – UV curing is the fastest curing technology for coatings and one of the greatest benefits to UV curing is the speed
• Smaller oven sizes – if space is a premium in your coating line, Ultraviolet ovens will take up the least amount of space due to their higher efficiency
• Unique coating outcomes – UV coatings are unique and can provide interesting gloss and durability characteristics
• Doesn’t heat the substrate – this is a benefit to UV and Infrared Coating
• Expensive Coatings -UV ovens require coatings that have been specially modified to be able to be cured by UV light. These coatings can be more expensive than more standard coatings which can create larger variable coating costs.
Ultimately UV and Infrared Curing are two unique applications that are ideal at reducing curing times. They are both also highly energy efficient. Infrared ovens do not have special coating requirements as much as UV ovens do. However, infrared ovens may not cure as rapidly as UV. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each oven you can better determine which may be right for you. If you have any questions about UV or Infrared Ovens we can provide free consultation.