In the "ENSIKOM" project, a material- and energy-efficient process was developed to coat complex, three-dimensional plastic components with UV-curable lacquers in an environmentally-friendly way.
Polyurethane resin-based two component lacquers that are usually non-recyclable have been used up to now for high quality coating of three-dimensional plastic components. Applying the lacquer using different atomization methods has high material losses of between 40 and 80 percent. In addition, large amounts of energy are needed to harden the finish. In many cases, at least 80 °C are necessary for this.
The joint partners developed coating materials made of 100 percent UV-curable lacquers. The UV technology enables faster production because the lacquer only takes a few seconds to harden. Energy consumption is also lower because UV radiation is a "cold" process. 100 percent of any overspray occurring during application is to be recovered. This recycling process ensures high material efficiency. The project also includes the design of a coating and lacquer recovery system.
The new process can avoid about 9.2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per tonne of lacquer applied. An additional CO2 saving potential results from the high energy efficiency due to the compact system engineering and the rapid UV cross-linking. Recycling the lacquer and the solvent results in 30 to 60 percent higher material efficiency; recycling the solvent also reduces the emission of volatile organic compounds. The surface properties are also significantly improved using the new method – at the same cost or even at slightly reduced costs.