Wood & Furniture

Environmentally friendly powder coating of MDF for high quality office furniture

Introduction of UV powder coating for medium density fibreboard (MDF) to Germany. No VOC is emitted in this process, and the complex waste air purification required for a liquid coating can be dispensed with. No waste or wastewater is produced.


The project demonstrates that the UV-powder process is suitable for high quality coating of thermo sensible MDF-substrates for the office furniture industry. The process proved itself resource efficient, since powder coating offers an application rate of 98 %. UV-powder coating avoids the emission of air born pollutants (especially VOC) and the generation of paint sludge and waste water. The energy demand of the UV-Powder-Process is comparable to the wet paint application – taking into account both the paint, respectively powder, production and the application process. The IR- and UV-section still comprise a noticeable potential for energy reduction, which will make the UV-powder process even more advantageous.

The process works highly economically and offers faster line speeds, thinner film thicknesses and high quality coating. The project demonstrates that powder application offers high quality coating for a wide range of thermo sensible substrates.

Considerable efforts have been made over the last few years to use valuable material and energy resources more efficiently, to minimize waste and to lower emissions - particularly VOC emissions - when coating surfaces.

This also applies to the coating of timber-based products, the specific characteristics of which, such as temperature sensitivity and surface quality, make high demands of the production process. Even today, solvent-based coatings are usually applied to timber products to achieve a high quality finish.

The aim of the project was to introduce UV powder coating for thermally sensitive MDF, as this avoids the aforementioned pollution arising during liquid coating and is at the very least equal in quality to former procedures. This was the first time that the process, in which the powder coating is fused into a smooth coating with infrared and convection heat and then crosslinked with ultraviolet radiation, was used in Germany on a production scale.

The project was carried out in close cooperation with partners from the office furniture industry, suppliers of powder coating technology (plant and powder manufacturers) and material producers. With the aim of introducing a rational, non-polluting coating of the very highest quality, it achieved both ecological and economical successes:

  • No VOC is emitted and complex waste air purification is not required.
  • The coating efficiency lies at 98% when the powder is prepared and returned. The paint sludge formed from the treatment of the liquid paint overspray is avoided.
  • No wastewater is produced.
  • Use of the UV powder coating considerably reduces the amount of materials required and thus improves the ecological balance of the paint manufacture significantly in comparison to liquid coating.
  • The system is highly automated and reliable. It lives up to the high quality expectations of the customer in all respects and is economical due to the high throughput.
  • Although electricity requirements are currently high, primarily due to the infrared fusing kiln, these could be reduced significantly, for example using gas-based heat generation and heat recovery from waste air.

The demonstration project proved that the high-quality coating of MDF for the furniture industry is both economically efficient and ecologically compatible. The process can be transferred both to other coating companies in the office furniture industry and to other sectors which coat temperature-sensitive materials such as plastics.

Source: Final report

Project Participants

Implementing Institutions

Sauter GmbH (Überlingen)

More Project Information

Project title: Demonstrationsanlage zur umweltfreundlichen MDF-Pulverbeschichtung mit hohen Qualitätsanforderungen für die Möbelherstellung

Project number: 20055

Reference number: FKZ: 30441-1/22

Project period: 2002 - 2004

Project region: Germany (Baden-Württemberg)

Project contact:

Frau Puder
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+49 (340) 2103 3067
+49 (340) 2104 3067

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Source: Environmental library of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA)