GFS REVO infrared curing system improves quality and productivity

July 29, 2020
Shortwave equipment increases throughput by as much as 80 percent.

     Collision repair shop owners and managers looking to increase their shops’ throughput may already know that shortwave infrared curing can be used to speed cure times of repair and refinish materials, from body filler through clearcoat. But what shop owners and managers don’t always consider is the quality improvement that comes from a complete, “what you see is what you get” cure, said Andrea Iacucci, product manager of REVO accelerated curing systems at Global Finishing Solutions (GFS).

     Traditionally, he pointed out, problems can arise when pushing the limits of repair material cure times to rush a vehicle through production. If solvents have not completely evaporated, body filler or primer surfacer can continue to shrink. If those products are then sanded too soon in the repair process and painted, that can be manifested in problems such as dieback, sand scratches, or edge-mapping of repaired areas. Those defects may not show until it’s time to reassemble the vehicle, or they may even show long after the vehicle has been delivered.

     “With REVO, we fully evaporate all the solvents from the filler to the primer,” Iacucci said. “We instantly age the filler and the primer. So when the prepper sands and levels the product, we can basically guarantee the product will never shrink again.”

REVO lineup can improve efficiency without overhauling shop space

     There are multiple REVO infrared models in the product line to suit various needs, from a handheld unit that plugs into any 110V outlet, to the flagship of the line, an automated semi-arch unit that can be mounted on rails in the paint booth or prep station.

     Each model cures with a mixture of short-wave and medium-wave infrared. Short-wave, which is about 80 percent of the bulbs’ output, penetrates multiple layers to cure from the inside (substrate) out, while medium-wave infrared, the remaining 20 percent, helps cure the outer layer.

     There are no adjustments needed for the refinishing materials used, how they are mixed, or how they are applied, Iacucci said. The only consideration is to not use accelerators or faster/lower temperature reducers and hardeners. Additionally, the paint manufacturer’s technical data sheet will usually list recommended curing times for using its products with short-wave infrared curing.

Multiple models suit varying budgets, footprints

     The 110-volt REVO Handheld is intended primarily to be used as a body repair tool, Iacucci said. It is capable of not only curing body filler but is useful for tasks such as removing emblems, vinyl graphics, and moldings, and for quickly heating large dents in bumper covers. It can also be useful for spot repairs of basecoat and clearcoat. This model does not include any equipment to prevent overheating, so it is best used with a handheld non-contact infrared thermometer to ensure the substrate is not overheated.


     All units except for the Handheld include programs to automatically control the cure temperature and time for body filler, primer surfacer, and basecoats and clearcoats (including dehydrating waterborne basecoats), including if the distance to the panel is a little too close or far away.  (For the Rapid and Speed, specialty programs, such as for chip-guard coatings, can also be set up with GFS’ assistance.)

     The single-phase 220V Spot has a single head, or “cassette,” that can be moved up and down on the lightweight cart. The cassette also adds an infrared thermometer, a feature that is also included on the other larger units, to automatically maintain the temperature set by the user, regardless of the distance to the panel or the substrate. The Spot is intended to cure body filler or primer surfacer on a single panel in only six to eight minutes, instead of the typical two to four hours it would take to air-dry. It is mounted on a rolling cart, so it can be moved between the prep station and paint booth.

     With an articulating arm and two heads similar to those of the Spot’s, the three-phase 220-volt or 480-volt Rapid can reach any part of the vehicle. The two cassettes can be individually positioned to cure one or two panels at once, including at a corner. Each cassette has its own sensor and is individually controlled. That allows two adjacent substrates, such as a plastic bumper cover and a steel fender, to be cured simultaneously at the correct temperature. The Rapid can be mounted either on an overhead rail system or on wheels, and GFS says it is ideal for prep areas or closed-top, open-front (CTOF) booths.

The REVO Speed is the flagship of the lineup. It moves on an overhead rail installed in a prep station or paint booth to cure up to four panels, and it can be installed in either a new GFS booth or prep station or retrofitted to most other brands and models. For even more productivity, a track-and-dolly system can be installed to move prepped vehicles between two or three prep bays into the side-load booth, which has a fabric RollSeal automated door. The REVO Speed or Rapid can then be moved between bays along the rails for increased efficiency of all curing steps.

“With proper ventilation and by using roll-up doors, we can heat the paint and cure it without using a burner,” Iacucci said. “What the REVO Speed is really good at is helping your shop do those two-to-three-panel repairs that can be done very quickly. Quite a few shops today are doing those repairs in the prep bay and then keeping the spray booth for large refinishing operations.”

The Speed includes three rows of lights arranged in a semi-arch that successively pass over the vehicle’s panels to completely cure the coatings: the first preheats the panel and will warm up the coating to start the evaporation and cross-linking process. The second brings the substrate to the desired temperature, and the third row of lights completely cures the product.


The REVO Speed completely cures in one pass, and at a rate of about one to two feet per minute, Iacucci said.

“When you dry clearcoat with REVO, you can reassemble in only 10 to 15 minutes after the part has been out of the booth,” he said. “And with some clears, you can actually buff it right away. So all that waiting time outside the spray booth is dramatically reduced.”

How short-wave electric infrared differs from gas-catalytic

Medium-wave infrared, as found in gas-catalytic or older-technology electric infrared curing equipment, cures from the outside, and gas-catalytic requires multiple passes, Iacucci said.

“By having more penetration power — basically a more pure power — we can correctly dry a thicker layer of products. That means that with our technology, you apply two or three coats of primer and dry them at the end with one pass. Gas-catalytic units usually require multiple passes over a surface, even on basecoat, which is usually only a 140-degree cure temperature. When [gas-catalytic users] apply primer, to achieve proper results, they need to apply one layer, have the unit go over it, then apply a second layer, have the unit go over it, and then apply a third layer and have the unit go over it.”

In multiple tests with paint manufacturers, GFS showed how a single panel can be repaired in as little as 48 minutes from filler to clearcoat (this time does not include any R&I time, of course.) And because short-wave infrared is not limited to line-of-sight, the REVO light will cure even on areas where it does not directly shine, he said.

“It’s because we’re heating the substrate, so heat will travel through it, not just directly under the light.”

All of the electric infrared’s heat energy is transferred directly to the substrate to be used for curing, whereas gas-catalytic systems lose some of the heat to the airspace. So, electric infrared is more energy-efficient, Iacucci said. Additionally, gas-catalytic equipment requires the gas to be preheated to 200 degrees to start the chemical reaction that generates heat. Since the preheating takes about 10 minutes, collision repair shops commonly keep the unit preheated all day, wasting energy. They still take about a minute to get up to drying temperature, while electric units take just a fraction of a second, he said.

Power requirements vary by model

The REVO handheld needs only standard 110-volt power, while the Spot unit will use a standard 220-volt outlet. The other units require either three-phase 220-volt or 480-volt power.

“That’s one of the challenges we face with the bigger units, because sometimes shops don’t have three-phase available,” he said. “So some shops buy two of the smaller units so they can move them around and position them.”

That can also make in-shop demonstrations a challenge, although seeing even the Handheld or Spot units makes many technicians and managers believers in the technology.

“If we leave a unit there for two or three days to play with it a little bit, we get a very high sales-closing rate out of the demo.”

About the Author

Jay Sicht | Editor-in-Chief, FenderBender and ABRN

Jay Sicht is editor-in-chief of FenderBender and ABRN. He has worked in the automotive aftermarket for more than 28 years, including in a number of sales and technical roles in paint/parts distribution and service/repair. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Central Missouri with a minor in aviation, and as a writer and editor, he has covered all segments of the automotive aftermarket for more than 20 of those years, including formerly serving as editor-in-chief of Motor Age and Aftermarket Business World. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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