It is an ongoing debate: electric or gas — which is better? Worldwide, there is a push for more environmentally friendly energy, which has less of an impact on the environment and saves money in the long run. So, what about in your body shop? Are electric infrared (IR) curing units better than gas catalytic dryers?
How the Technologies Work
First and foremost, it is important to understand the differences between electric IR curing and the gas catalytic process. Electric IR uses only the electrical power supplied in the shop and does not rely on the catalytic chemical reaction seen in gas dryers.
In gas units, the catalytic reaction happens only after they are preheated to a certain temperature — a process that takes 10 minutes or more. As a result, gas catalytic units are typically left on all day, consuming a large amount of energy.
Short wave electric IR units — such as REVO Accelerated Curing Systems from Global Finishing Solutions® (GFS) — reach curing temperature instantly and are ready to cure a repair immediately, saving time and energy. They also cool down quickly, so the systems can be turned on only when needed and are safe to handle shortly after shutdown.
It has been proven that short wave electric infrared technology provides significant energy cost savings, as well as throughput gains and quality improvements.
Energy Cost Savings
Electric IR energy costs are a fraction of those needed to run a gas catalytic system. The REVO Speed reaches a maximum of 30 kw at full power for the unit and bulbs. Fortunately, these systems typically require only 68 to 75 percent of power during operation, which uses significantly less energy. Whether operating at 100 percent or 70 percent, REVO Systems are extremely cost-effective compared to gas catalytic systems.
Although REVO Systems do not need to be used for an hour straight due to the fast curing technology, an hour of using a REVO Speed unit would cost the following in electricity:
- 100% power (30 kw – maximum): 30 kw x 12 cents/kw = $3.60 per hour
- 70% power (21 kw – average): 8 kw x 12 cent/kw = $2.52 per hour
To verify, GFS technical advisors tracked energy consumption of REVO Systems at the GFS Center for Excellence training facility in Osseo, Wisconsin. Using a power consumption meter, GFS has confirmed that, on average, it takes 2 kw of energy to cure one panel with REVO Speed. To cure a full side of a vehicle with REVO, it uses about 8 kw of energy — that includes primer, base coat flash and clear coat. A full repair process on a side of a vehicle takes only about $1 of electricity with REVO Speed.
Short wave electric infrared curing systems can increase your paint shop throughput by up to 80 percent. For example, using REVO Speed at 70 percent power, technicians can complete up to six repairs in one hour, using only $2.52 of electricity. Curing time for both prep and paint phases of repair is reduced by hours, freeing technicians to complete additional repairs.
Short wave electric IR cures multiple layers of paint within seconds, heating the panel to curing temperature in less time than it takes to preheat gas catalytic units. Not having to cure each layer individually — and preheat the panels each time — leads to significant throughput gains for shops using short wave electric infrared curing technology.
There is also no need to add accelerators to speed up curing time. The fast dry time and complete cure from short wave electric IR technology delivers high-quality results that reduce the need for rework, while using your regular paint materials.
Using short wave infrared curing technology, REVO Systems cure filler and coatings quickly from the inside out. By heating the underlying substrate, the heat is directed outward with consistent, controlled heat directed to each layer of the filler or coating.
Although REVO Systems use primarily short wave IR, they also produce some medium waves, which together creates an even, complete cure for up to three layers with just one pass, without skinning or solvent popping the top layer. These problems can occur often with thick layers of paint used in conjunction with gas catalytic systems, as these systems use medium and long wave IR which do not penetrate directly to the surface. This causes the outside to be dried before the inside and requires multiple passes over the area being cured.
Short wave electric IR technology is transforming collision repair shops across the globe. By offering a faster, more complete and predictable cure, REVO Systems from GFS offer significant energy savings and can eliminate a number of issues that slow the drying and rework process that are common in many body shops and collision centers.