Coating car bodies is a complex process. After completing the individual coating steps, the coat is dried by conveying the entire car body through paint ovens up to 100 meters in length, and temperatures of up to 180°C. Proper drying is a prerequisite for an optimum result.
In 2003, inpro began working on simulating the heating and drying process. Based on physical principles, a simulation model was developed to factor in all heat and flash-off phenomena, as well as their complex interactions. The simulation approach has been successfully verified both with a Golf A5-part body, and in a real continuous oven. As a result, temperature and paint humidity could be accurately predicted at any time of the drying process and anywhere on the car body. The simulation of drying and curing processes allowed the effects of humidity, airflow, component changes or temperature on the finished coat to be determined. Critical body parts such as door folds can be identified in advance, and measures can be taken to improve the suitability of the painting result. Work on the design of calibration-free simulation software as a planning tool was carried out together with partner companies throughout 2007. For inpro, the dryer simulation was a central element of the process chain simulation, demonstrating the suitability of the principle.
The simulation of drying and curing operations as part of car body coating is an important step for future simulation of continuous process chains inside the digital factory. This applies both to planning new systems and optimising existing ones, as well as when launching new models. In particular, it enables the time required for the preproduction process to be shortened, thus reducing the number of prototypes.