A modern car paint plant is a little like a theater stage: Robotic arms work elegantly, buzzing around the chassis and spraying a fine mist of paint as it slowly glides through the room. A fully automated ballet shepherding one vehicle after the other with vigor and determination. It happens thousands of times a day in car factories all over the world.
A fascinating spectacle that uses a formidable amount of energy and resources - particularly water. For many decades, wet scrubbing systems were the first choice for removing excess paint from a plant’s air flow. Air is directed through the water and the water then helps separate the paint particles. They remain in the water and chemicals are used later to separate the particles from the water and to be disposed of as paint sludge. This is also expensive and time-consuming: For example, painting 1,500 vehicles produces up to three tons of paint sludge. But that is not all: The air circulating in the system - 10 percent of which is usually fresh air - and the reused water are treated with antifungal and antibacterial chemicals to inhibit microbial growth.
This effort is increasingly problematic for automotive manufacturers and suppliers, as the ecological footprint for water-based processes is high - too high for the ambitious political and industrial goals of reducing energy and resource consumption in production. “To minimize the long-term footprint, we developed products, know-how and services that use a dry process to separate the paint,” says Jürgen Becker, Head of Surface Technology at Freudenberg Filtration Technologies. “Waste, energy consumption, emissions and water consumption can then be significantly reduced.”