At OMR S.p.A., a leading company in the automotive sector, we have two state-of-the-art paint facilities authorized by major industry players. Modern technologies enable us to achieve the highest quality standards demanded by the market, tailoring solutions to meet our customers’ specific needs.
The painting process includes different phases that adapt to the type of component. Let’s delve into the various steps that involve the painting process at OMR S.p.A. headquarters.
Loading and Unloading of the Painting Rack
The first phase consists of correctly loading the components onto the painting rack, the frame on which the components to be painted are positioned.
In a complex industrial system like OMR’s, this phase is crucial for several reasons.
The first is, undoubtedly, quality: the positioning and distance between the individual components are crucial elements to guarantee the correct painting.
The proper loading of the painting rack is the first step to achieving an optimal coating result and making the entire process efficient.
Over the years, OMR has developed standardized loading processes, including the design and construction of customized frames for specific components. The know-how and experience of the painting plant workers come into play when it comes to studying a solution for loading components characterized by particular geometries or dimensions.
In a continuous workflow, the unloading phase of the painting rack is particularly delicate: painted components are carefully arranged inside suitable and specifically designed containers, with separating elements made of a special material useful for protecting each piece and maintaining the painting result. The unloading phase of the painting rack must be completed quickly to guarantee the continuity of the workflow: the secret to efficiency, therefore, lies not only in the correct arrangement of the components on the painting rack but also in the speed at which it is loaded and unloaded.
Cataphoresis Coating Treatment
Cataphoresis coating treatment is based on electrochemical principles and is highly effective in providing complete and uniform protection to the component. In simplified terms, the paint electrically adheres to the piece and coats its surface.
Before starting the cataphoresis coating treatment, the surface of the component undergoes rigorous pre-treatment in a dedicated tunnel, characterized by different stages: degreasing, pickling, activation, phosphating, and passivation.
Degreasing, useful for removing any oily contaminants, occurs either through a spray treatment or through immersion in a special liquid. After several washing phases, the next step is phosphating, a process that involves the application of a layer of phosphate, which improves the adhesion of the cataphoresis paint.
After pre-treatment, the components are immersed in a tank containing electrically charged paint, which is attracted to the metal surfaces. The parts to be painted act as a cathode in the electrochemical process, hence the name “cataphoresis coating.” The paint chemically bonds to metal surfaces, ensuring excellent adhesion.
At this point, the components are sent toward the curing process, which takes place in ovens at 200°C with the aim of hardening the paint and ensuring that it is completely fixed to the metal surfaces. This process creates a strong, uniform, and long-lasting layer of paint that effectively protects the parts from oxidation and corrosion.
Cataphoresis coating treatment involves different thicknesses based on the customer’s needs and requests: each part coated with cataphoresis coating treatment undergoes stringent quality controls to ensure that the paint layer is uniform and flawless. Any imperfections are corrected before the part is considered ready for a subsequent painting phase or for packaging.
In fact, depending on the customer’s request, the painting process of a component can end with cataphoresis coating. In other cases, the process continues with a different type of painting: powder coating.
Powder coating is a widely used coating technique in the automotive industry for both protective and aesthetic purposes: just as cataphoresis coating treatment is available in different thicknesses, powder coating allows for chromatic customization of the piece.
At OMR, powder coating is an automated process that takes place inside dedicated booths with the use of robotic arms that apply electrically charged powder, which adheres to the piece.
The powder application can be preceded by a masking phase. This occurs when, in line with the customer’s request, certain parts of the surface of the component must not be painted, or when there are threaded elements on which the thickness of the powder would jeopardize the possibility of screwing other parts. In this specific case, silicone caps are used to protect the threaded part from the application of paint.
In certain cases, following the automatic powder coating process, manual touch-up is also required: the employee intervenes where the robot nozzles cannot reach, due to the shape and geometry of the piece.
Powder painting involves a curing phase inside a specially designed oven where the steel component is subject to high temperatures: the powder chemically bonds to the piece, fixing to the surface.
The entire painting process undergoes rigorous quality controls, and the system’s performance is monitored at every stage, with random checks following a strict protocol aimed at documenting strict compliance with quality standards.
At OMR, specific procedures are carried out to adapt the process to the customer’s needs: it is possible for the customer to carry out tests on sample pieces and then subject the results to laboratory checks conducted internally within the company.
Filtering and Recovery Systems
Advanced filtering systems allow for the reuse of cleaning, degreasing, and phosphating water, helping to reduce waste and increase sustainability.
The exhaust fumes from the powder coating oven are recovered and reintroduced into the cataphoresis coating oven. If introducing air at room temperature, the energy used to heat the oven is lower than that needed when introducing air at room temperature. Heat recovery increases overall energy efficiency.
Business Continuity: Ensuring Efficiency
OMR S.p.A. guarantees maximum efficiency and operational continuity through the presence of two painting shops for cataphoresis and powder coating treatment. This strategy guarantees operational continuity even in the event of a breakdown or scheduled maintenance of one of the systems, ensuring uninterrupted service to our customers.
In conclusion, painting at OMR S.p.A. represents a sophisticated and highly efficient process aimed at providing high-quality and customized coatings to fully meet the needs of our customers in the automotive sector.