Machine Design

On track for a quick coat of paint

France's 200-mph highspeed train, manufactured by Gec Alsthom, Belfort, France, takes a more leisurely jaunt through this Thermoreactor drying tunnel. The tunnel quickly dries organic coatings using infrared radiation.

The fastest train in the world now sports a new coat of paint that dried lightning fast in a custom-built drying tunnel. Thermoreator tunnels from Sunkiss, based in Sathonay, France, efficiently transfer infrared radiation to the coating's center. This effectively reduces the drying time for organic coatings up to eightfold.

The system uses natural gas or propane-powered catalytic radiant panels. The panels efficiently diffuse infrared radiation that is absorbed by organic coatings. The electromagnetic radiation in conjunction with hot air currents generated at the panel surface combine to accelerate evaporation, melting, and polymerization of the coatings

The dramatically shorter drying time lets the tunnels be more compact than conventional drying ovens. The shortened and more thorough drying process is also said to give the coatings a better finish and improved paint-film tension.

Tunnels equipped with the Thermoreactor need only a 10-min set up. Energy consumption is half that of conventional lines. And solvent by-products are destroyed by flameless oxidation, making for a more environmentally friendly coating process.

Custom built tunnels for automotive, construction, farm equipment, and surface treatment industries now dry ink coatings such as plastisol or foam deposited on PVC, paper, or textiles. They are also used for preheating plastic before thermoforming. The company is seeking business contacts in the U.S. and Canada.

Information for this article was provided by the French Technology Press Office Inc., Chicago, Ill., (312)222-1235.

TAGS: Materials
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