Achieving the right finish for wood furniture and cabinets can be a difficult challenge for many wood products manufacturers.

Cabinet, furniture and millwork producers that want to improve their finish quality but don’t have the space, or the desire, to test new formulations can take their finishing questions to ChemQuest.

ChemQuest Group, Inc. and the ChemQuest Technology Institute offer coatings services for formulation, process engineering, physical testing, and forensics analysis, especially as these processes use various forms of state-of-the-art UV curing technology.

Overall, customers of ChemQuest Group and the CQTI are 50 percent raw material suppliers, 35 percent manufacturers of formulated products and 15 percent end users, financial institutions and trade associations.

ChemQuest Group began operating the testing center in South Boston, Virginia, on February 1, 2016. This location was originally opened by the state of Virginia as the Center for Coatings, Application Research & Education.

“CQTI is project and problem focused, we are designed to help our clients learn more than they can discover on their own,” said Edye Fox Abrams, director business development. “We are not a straight-up lab. We are meant to be an external resource, to extend the knowledge within an organization. We provide solutions and explanations, not just data. Our market knowledge and business strategy services lead naturally to our technology expertise. We are a private organization and therefore, our clients own the IP we develop.”

At CQTI in South Boston, coatings can be applied to any flat substrate, such as wood, glass, metal, composite, or plastic, measuring up to 50 inches wide, 12 feet long, and 4 inches thick. After an automated spray application of a coating, the substrate can be exposed to several curing methods for R&D testing, including infrared curing (IR); convection curing; and three types of UV curing.

Recently, CQTI, in partnership with Heraeus Noblelight America, started scheduling trials on its new, microwave-powered and UV LED wide-format curing systems deployed on its automated flat line in South Boston. CQTI’s client base can now test new chemistries and curing processes using equipment and a line scaled to the production of durable goods.

“No other independent facility provides microwave-powered and 30-inch wide UV LED flat-line curing systems,” said Kevin Joesel, director of sales, UVP, Heraeus Noblelight America. “Comparing different UV curing methods – UV LED, microwave-powered, or arc lamps – is now easily achievable on one line.”

The Superfici flatline was designed with wood products in mind, but can work with any flat substrate that can receive a coating.

Finish testing options

In addition to the Heraeus UV/LED equipment, CQTI offers several other finishing testing options in South Boston.

A Superfici flat-line finishing system includes a material feed conveyor system with panel cleaner and pretreat, reciprocating dual spray valves and pressurized spray cabin. It applies solvent and waterborne coatings, with varying pumps available. The pressurized spray cabin is able to spray all types of coatings. The Superfici flatline was designed with wood products in mind, but can work with any flat substrate that can receive a coating.

There is also a Superfici hang line with 3D, UV, IR and high-heat convection. It has capacity for electrostatic and conventional spraying using various hand-held spray guns and a powder coating cabin. Cross-draft spray booths and curing ovens are also available, including a convection oven that heats to 400F, direct infrared and UV curing ovens.

Newly available ClimateQuest is a controlled temperature and humidity spray chamber that can mimic atmospheric application conditions all over the United States. Application rates can be controlled precisely, using a variety of systems.

It is also possible to rent application equipment for one-half day, full day or longer time periods. The equipment can be used as an extension of project research and development work or to prove new processes. Formulation and testing capabilities are also available on site.

This includes the Superfici flat-line coating and curing system, automated conveyor product coating and curing system and cross-draft spray booth and oven, and other formulation and testing equipment.

In addition to the Heraeus UV/LED equipment, CQTI offers several other finishing testing options in South Boston.

Learning and training center

The ChemQuest Technology Institute is also hosting SSPC training and certification courses in South Boston. Coatings professionals will have the opportunity to enhance their industry knowledge and attain or reaffirm professional certifications while studying in the training and education center.

Courses already offered this year include Planning & Specifying Industrial Coatings Projects, a course designed to provide those who understand coating fundamentals with an overview of the principles of planning, awarding, and monitoring the quality of new construction or maintenance painting projects.

The training center has also offered the Protective Coatings Specialist certification program, which identifies and awards recognition to individuals who have in-depth knowledge in the principles and practices of industrial coatings technology. Another course, Selection of Coatings, covered skills required to specify and select coatings for specific structures and environments.

In the future, CQTI is offering a course and testing on Coating Application Specialist (CAS) Refresher on December 11-12, 2018. This is an overview of surface preparation and application covered in the Body of Knowledge of SSPC-ACS 1/NACE No. 13 Applicator Certification Standard No 1, Industrial Coating and Lining Application Specialist Qualification and Certification.

To learn more about CQTI’s coatings application, curing lines, process development, and how to schedule a trial, contact Doug Corrigan by at dcorrigan@chemquest.com or 434-570-1400.

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