Switch to UV System Boosts Finishing Output
Lanz Cabinets saves time and money with a sprayable, UV-cured finishing system applied by an automated flatline.
Four years ago, “the old way” of doing things in the finish room finally caught up with Lanz Cabinets, a 150-employee cabinetmaker in Eugene, OR.
“We spray about 500 to 600 doors and drawers a day,” says Greg Bowden, finishing manager for the company. “Storing them on a rack and spraying them one side at a time just wasn’t doing it. The paint room just became a bottleneck.”
Lanz’s response was to upgrade, both the finishing equipment and the finish itself.
The company installed an automated finishing line, which it now uses for about 80 percent of its cabinet parts. The flatline system was engineered by Stiles Machinery. It includes a sanding station and blow-off sprayer, Cefla robotic sprayer and drying and curing ovens.
When the company added the automated line, it also switched its finishing materials. It converted to UV-cured finishes made by Akzo Nobel.
Lanz made another upgrade a year after installing the line. The line’s skimmer cloth filtration system, used to collect overspray for disposal, was not working out. The chemicals needed to filter the finish solids from the water frequently fell out of balance, forcing operators to shut down the line to scrub down the walls, spray guns and exhaust stack.
“The general wisdom was that we needed to replace the skimmer with a centrifuge,” says Bowden.
Lanz bought a CentraSep system from Midwest Engineered Products. It functions by spinning the finish overspray and water mixture at a high speed, along with chemicals like a de-tackifyer and a coagulant. “It kind of turns it into an oil-and-water type mixture,” to separate the overspray from the clean water, Bowden says.
Saving Time, Money and VOCs
The centrifuge has also helped to reduce waste disposal costs. Bowden estimates savings of at least $16,000 per year in chemicals, filter cloths and maintenance. Lanz also received a $25,000 tax credit for the system from the Environmental Protection Agency — Department of Environmental Quality.
The UV-cured finish does contain solvents. It is about 35 percent solids, a necessary compromise because undissolved, the finish would be too viscous for spraying. However, Bowden says, “We’re trapping the overspray in water, so the VOCs we’re sending into the air is reduced.”
The new system has also had aesthetic benefits for the plant. “We like to show our customers our facility and how their cabinets get made,” Bowden says. “We’ve been able to remove the unsightly paint drying rack and the cloth filtration; this area now is clean.”
Two Shops in One
“We run almost a two-cabinet shop,” Bowden says of Lanz’s target markets. One market is production-scale cabinet work for multi-family residences, particularly townhomes. The other is custom homes.
“The townhomes generally require more affordable cabinets,” Bowden says. He adds that Lanz typically builds three or four styles of sample cabinets for each townhome job. Then, the individual unit buyers can choose the style they want.
Color is another area where Lanz offers a compromise between choice and cost. For custom work, the company offers several unusual colors, such as the light blue “Denim” or the deep green “Sage,” alongside more traditional wood tones. For the multi-family homes, Bowden says, “We try to offer one of each color, but not the four or five shades of each.”
Bowden says the unique colors are generally used as an accent to a job — a single cabinet or perhaps a bathroom.
The company hired a graduate in interior design to identify colors to use for production. Lanz then gives those colors to Akzo Nobel, which matches them in a finish.
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