is an all-rounder that simulates a variety of future production line conditions. Using this test method, Wörwag is able to manufacture products of consistent high quality in growth markets such as China.

The parameters of the LabPainters in China can be reviewed online in Germany.

Mixture makes it

Head of Process Engineering, Materials Engineering and Analytics, Dr. Alexander Gissel can watch the LabPainter working at the Chinese Langfang site, even though he is 8000 kilometers away in Stuttgart. The remote link is a major strength of this test process. Gissel can access all the conditions and parameters of the process in China and compare them with other locations. The device was put into operation in late 2012 in Langfang following the successful implementation of a system in the American Wörwag site in Lafayette, Indiana.

From Stuttgart, Gissel has constant access to the facilities in the USA and China. Wörwag is concocting the perfect formulation, like a chef collecting the best seasoning tips from all over the world. “We developed the machine concept, application methods and process en- gineering, and demonstrated and documented it all in Stuttgart,” says Gissel. “A nomenclature was also defined for the the every aspect of the process so that Wörwag application technologists can all speak the same language all over the world.”

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At work: The LabPainter simulates future serial conditions.

Reliable workers in China: Liang Wang prepares the LabPainter for the next test.

Development pioneer

Liang Wang knows the code. The painter in the test lab in China is preparing for the next round of experiments. Using a paper funnel , he carefully pours paint into the flow cup of the LabPainter. 100 milliliters of lacquer suffice. A geared pump then delivers the liquid via a four millimetre thick hose directly to the high-speed rotary atomizer. The miniature paint system, largely developed by Wörwag and implemented in 2004, simulates in minute detail the painting processes of automo- bile manufacturers and their suppliers. Basically, Wörwag can use the LabPainter today to test the painting processes of tomorrow. This is the key to the successful development of new paint formulations.
In the four-by-three-meter spray booth, it is 23°C and humidity is 70 percent. Controlling the ambient conditions is an energy-intensive process but one that is fundamental for the high reproducibility of the coatings. Silver is applied – Diamond Silver for Mercedes. Wang adjusts the substrate facing the atomizer. He closes the door. Then, looking at the screen, he activates the electrostatic high-speed rotary atomizer. The substrate is sprayed auto- matically. After venting, the paint is allowed to dry before the clear coat is applied. Then, after more venting, Wang puts the substrate back into the oven to dry. This process is re- peated with different formulations. The Lab- Painter is a tireless marathon runner. With perfect preparatory work and two shifts, up to 80 sprays per day are possible.

Gissel is satisfied with the results from China. Evaluation of the color panels is important for the development of coatings. “Because we test the application process conditions,” says Gissel, “we can find out to what degree a new color tone will be affected by variations in production line conditions and application technology.”
The LabPainter is flexible, easy to use and requires little space. It is suitable for water- and solvent-based coating systems. All types of atomizers can be used and it can be adapted to the latest technology. Gissel is certain of one thing: “We have to keep on top of developments. Customer demands are constantly changing.”


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