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Virtual PaintShop – Simulation of Oven Curing

Virtual PaintShop – Simulation of Oven Curing

The surface treatment is the process in an automotive factory that consumes most energy, water and chemicals, and produces most waste and pollution. The paint shop is also a bottleneck in production and the processes are fine-tuned based on testing on numerous prototypes. To meet the future demands on fast adaption and tailored solutions for new material combinations and products there is a great need to improve the product preparation process.

The main goal of the project is to develop methods, techniques and software, and supporting measurement methodology, for simulation of paint curing in IR and convective ovens. This is very challenging due to the turbulent air flow in the ovens, the thin boundary layers and large temperature gradients, and also the large variation in scales ranging from the sub-millimeter thickness of the paint layers to the size of the ovens. The application is based on earlier work that has resulted in the only dedicated software tool on the market, used in production by the Swedish and international automotive industry, to predict the resulting paint thickness, and also the application of sealing material. The same platform will be used in this project and the aim is that all key processes in an automotive paint shop can be simulated in the same simulation environment – ´The Virtual Paint Shop´.

The aim is that the commissioning time for the oven curing processes of new models is reduced by 25%. Furthermore, the environmental impact will be reduced since significantly less prototypes need to be physically tested, and the process optimization aims to reduce the energy requirement in the ovens by 10%. A more uniform curing will improve product quality, reduce thermal deformation and stresses, and also yield a better work environment.

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