One of the fastest-growing areas of wood finishing is comprised of finishes that cure when exposed to ultra-violet light. The UV light causes these finishes to crosslink and cure almost instantly. This class of finish has a number of advantages over more traditional finishes, including almost total elimination of VOCs, less waste, less floor space required, immediate handling and stacking (so there’s no need for drying racks), reduced labor costs and faster production rates.
The two most important disadvantages are the high initial cost for the equipment and difficulty finishing complex three-dimensional objects because the UV lamp has to be placed at a fixed distance and perpendicular to the surface.
So getting into UV-cured finishing is usually limited to larger shops making fairly flat objects such as doors, paneling, flooring, trim and ready-to-assemble parts.
But the technology is advancing rapidly, so you may want to keep an eye on the progress. The trade association is RadTech International (www.radtech.org).
If you’re interested in learning more, Lawrence C. Van Iseghem, president of Van Technologies in Duluth, Minn., has written a great introductory article, “Wood Finishing with UV Curable Coatings” which you can find by searching for the title online.
Also, the State University of New York has archived more than a dozen informative webinars dealing with UV-LED curing at www.esf.edu/outreach/uvebwebinar.