Introduction to UV LEDs for the Wood Market

During the production of kitchen furniture, wood floors or cladings, varnishing is a crucial step of the process that offers a better protection along with an aesthetic appeal to the wood.

The many standards applying to varnishes mainly concern their resistance to breaking, stain and scratches. In order to meet every demand of the market, several varnish formulations have been created as well as different curing methods: thermal, infrared, mercury lamps, etc…

The curing process using UV LEDs illumination is one of the fastest there is and will soon replace current solutions such as mercury lamps. The photo-initiators present in the formulation are activated upon UV light insulation and instantly harden the varnish layer. Only a few seconds of exposure is needed for the varnish to be fully cured and have the required characteristics of brightness, resistance to thermal shocks, solidity...

UWAVE and the Technological Institute FCBA (Forest Cellulose, Construction-wood and Furniture)
The FCBA is a technological institute whose mission is to promote technical progress, participate in improving the performance and quality assurance of industries. 

Aware of the growing popularity of UV LED technology in the wood industry, the FCBA wanted to create a project involving different players in the field (paint manufacturers, manufacturers of UV LED equipment and end users). The objective was to determine the technical viability of such a solution, to draw conclusions on the formulation and its results after the varnish has been applied. 

In order to verify the curing quality on varnishes, FCBA has carried out numerous standardized tests including anti-scratch, breakage and stain resistance tests. 

The results are excellent on two points. First of all, some varnishes have shown a very high scratch resistance up to 3 times higher than current varnishes. Secondly, the production speed can be doubled, depending on the application, without loss of varnish resistance.