Infrared Lights and its application in Detailing
The topic of infrared is not a modern concept and is generally used in realms of science. But what if this topic was applied to the automotive industry, more specifically coating curing applications.
The modern concept of infrared (IR) is a type of radiation which falls between visible light and microwaves in the electromagnetic spectrum. IR itself cannot be seen by us however it can be felt as the transfer of heat. Anything that has a temperature is always emitting IR albeit at differing levels of intensity.
IR travels in waves with a known relationship between the wavelength, frequency and energy level. In other words, the energy (temperature) increases as the wavelength decreases.
If you work in or own a body shop, you most likely are already familiar with IR because it’s used to cure paint during repainting. For those of you who own or work in professional detailing shops, or those of you who do mobile detailing, you know the feeling of a stressed schedule and lack of time. This is where IR can come in handy due to the fact that it can expedite the curing process of coatings. The faster the curing, the less time available for damage caused by the curing environment and also more work can be done leading to increased revenue.
The way IR waves and energy actually work are that they penetrates the coating and the paint and ends up traveling directly to the substrate. Once it reaches the substrate it actually bounces back up through the paint coating. This process creates a much more stable and appropriate cure from the inside out in the shortest possible time. Meaning customers are able to drive away with a much more cured coating while leaving you reassured that it is cured enough to face the elements.
However good IR curing sounds it does have its limitations like everything else and they are based on line of sight. The IR energy only travels in a straight line, so to be absorbed by the IR source needs to be facing the surface that is being worked on.
There are many manufacturers and types of equipment available when looking for a suitable IR system. However, an understanding of the basics of IR curing will help to choose the right one and get the most out of it.
IR curing systems can usually be classed into three groups being high, medium or low intensity. This refers to the energy level of the source.
1. High Energy short wavelength 2. Medium Energy medium wavelength 3. Low Energy long wavelength
Long energy is the least efficient. We don’t even need to talk about it because it’s irrelevant to our industry. Medium energy IR lamps are good for curing coatings on simple surfaces like hoods and roofs. However, high energy is the most efficient IR for detailing because it cures coatings the fastest and can be used on complex part shapes like side mirror housing and lower spoiler areas.
Knowing this information "High Energy" IR is best suited to the detailing industry especially with the complex coatings that we use today.
It needs to be noted that control is very important when using IR Lamp systems. Incorrect use such as, length of time used, distance and placement of the lamp means it could result in brittleness, scorching and could degradation of the paint coating surface.
Detailing professionals who apply coatings should take IR systems into high consideration given their ability to speed up cure times and boost coating performance and the level of protection. The addition of an IR system will give your business the best, professional and most complete coating application process.
For more information IR Lamps and coating application please feel free to contact us here at Detail Central and we will be glad to help you out with all you detailing needs.