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1. CA2480861 - PROCESS AND DEVICE FOR CURING A COATING

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[ EN ]
What is claimed is:
1. Process for at least partially curing a coating on a work piece, comprising:
providing the coating on the work piece, wherein the work piece is non- planar in construction and the coating is adapted to be cured by means of a UV radiation;
disposing the work piece with the coating in a plasma generation area containing a process gas; and
generating a plasma in the plasma generation area by an input of electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area by means of at least one input device, whereby the UV radiation is generated in the plasma; and
at least partially curing the coating by means of the UV radiation generated in the plasma.
2. Process according to Claim 1, wherein the pressure in the plasma generation area is set to a value of 100 Pa at maximum.
3. Process according to any one of Claims 1 and 2, wherein the plasma generation area contains nitrogen and/or an inert gas as the process gas.
4. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 3, wherein a metal and/or a metal halide is added to the process gas contained in the plasma generation area.
5. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the plasma is generated by the input of microwave radiation.
6. Process according to Claim 5, wherein the electromagnetic radiation is generated by means of a magnetron.
7. Process according to any one of Claims 5 and 6, wherein an electron cyclotron resonance magnetic field is generated for the generation of an electron cyclotron resonance effect.
8. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 7, wherein the electromagnetic radiation is input into the plasma generation area by means of a plurality of the input devices.
9. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 8, wherein the work piece has a cavity with an access opening, and the electromagnetic radiation is input into the plasma generation area by means of the at least one input device so that the electromagnetic radiation passes through the access opening into the cavity of the work piece.
10. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 9, wherein a gas to be ionised is fed to the plasma generation area during the curing process.
11. Process according to Claim 10, wherein the gas to be ionised is fed to the plasma generation area by means of a feeder device, which is adjacent to the at least one input device, by means of which the electromagnetic radiation is input into the plasma generation area.
12. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 11, wherein the work piece is placed into an antechamber and is transferred from the antechamber into the plasma generation area for the curing process.
13. Process according to Claim 12, wherein the antechamber is evacuated after placing the work piece therein.
14. Process according to any one of Claims 12 and 13, wherein the work piece is subjected to an antechamber microwave radiation in the antechamber.
15. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 14, wherein the work piece is transferred from the plasma generation area into a discharge chamber after the curing process.
16. Process according to Claim 15, wherein before the work piece is transferred into the discharge chamber, the discharge chamber is evacuated.
17. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 16, wherein the work piece has at least one undercut and/or at least one shaded region.
18. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 17, wherein the work piece comprises an electrically conductive material.
19. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 18, wherein the work piece comprises a metallic material.
20. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 19, wherein the work piece comprises a plastic material and/or wood.
21. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 20, wherein the plasma generation area contains nitrogen, helium and/or argon as the process gas.
22. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 21, wherein the composition of the process gas contained in the plasma generation area varies during the curing process.
23. Process according to Claim 22, wherein the composition of the process gas varies such that during a first phase of the curing process the centre of concentration of the UV radiation generated in the plasma during the curing process lies at a first wavelength and during a later, second phase of the curing process lies at a second wavelength, the second wavelength being different from the first wavelength.
24. Process according to Claim 23, wherein the second wavelength is less than the first wavelength.
25. Process according to any one of Claims 22 and 23, wherein the composition of the process gas is varied such that the centre of concentration of the UV radiation generated in the plasma during the curing process shifts towards lower wavelengths as the curing duration increases.
26. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 25, wherein at a time at which the plasma is ignited, the plasma generation area contains argon.
27. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 26, wherein one or more gases and/or a gas mixture are fed to the plasma generation area via one or more gas feeder devices.
28. Process according to Claim 8, wherein the plasma is generated by the input of the electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area by means of the plurality of the input devices, wherein at least two of the input devices have different input powers from one another.
29. Process according to Claim 8, wherein the plasma is generated by the input of the electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area by means of the plurality of the input devices, wherein at least two of the input devices differ in design.
30. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 29, wherein at least one reflector is provided in the plasma generation area to reflect the electromagnetic radiation generated in the plasma.
31. Process according to Claim 30, wherein at least one of the at least one reflector in the plasma generation area is configured as a mirror film.
32. Process according to any one of Claims 30 and 31, wherein at least one sub-region of boundary walls of the plasma generation area is configured as the at least one reflector.
33. Process according to any one of Claims 30 to 32, wherein the at least one reflector comprises aluminium and/or stainless steel as reflective material.
34. Process according to any one of Claims 30 to 33, wherein the at least one reflector is removable from the plasma generation area.
35. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 34, wherein gas is drawn off from the plasma generation area via at least one suction device.
36. Process according to Claim 35, wherein at least one of the at least one suction device has a throttle valve and the pressure in the plasma generation area is varied by means of the throttle valve.
37. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 29, wherein the work piece is electrically separated from boundary walls of the plasma generation area by means of an at least partially electrically insulating holder.
38. Process according to Claim 37, wherein the work piece is connected to a different electric potential from the electric potential of the boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
39. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 29, wherein the work piece is connected in an electrically conductive manner to boundary walls of the plasma generation area by means of an electrically conductive holder.
40. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 29, wherein the work piece is connected to the same electric potential as boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
41. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 40, wherein the work piece is connected to earth potential.
42. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 41, wherein the coating on the work piece is curable by the UV radiation or by heat or by a combination of the UV radiation and heat.
43. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 42, wherein the work piece is subjected to a non-plasma generated electromagnetic radiation which is not generated in the plasma, before, during and/or after generation of the plasma.
44. Process according to Claim 43, wherein the work piece is subjected to a non-plasma generated microwave radiation and/or to a non-plasma generated infrared radiation, which is not generated in the plasma, before, during and/or after generation of the plasma.
45. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 44, wherein the work piece is dried before, after and/or during generation of the plasma.
46. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 45, wherein before generation of the plasma, the work piece is subjected to a pressure lying below atmospheric pressure.
47. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 46, wherein before generation of the plasma, the work piece is subjected to a pressure lying below atmospheric pressure, which is higher than the pressure, to which the work piece is subjected during generation of the plasma.
48. Process according to any one of Claims 1 to 47, wherein a magnetic field is generated in the plasma generation area.
49. Process according to Claim 48, wherein the intensity of the magnetic field is varied during the curing process.
50. Process according to any one of Claims 48 and 49, wherein the magnetic field is generated in the plasma generation area only after the start of the curing process.
51. Process according to any one of Claims 48 to 50, wherein the intensity of the magnetic field varies spatially in the plasma generation area.
52. Combination of a work piece, which is non-planar and has a radiation- curable coating, and a device for curing the radiation-curable coating on the work piece, the device comprising: a plasma generation area containing a process gas; a device for bringing the work piece with the radiation-curable coating into the plasma generation area, and a device for generating the plasma which generates a UV radiation that is suitable for curing the radiation-curable coating on the work piece in the plasma generation area, wherein the device for generating the plasma in the plasma generation
area comprises at least one input device for the input of electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area and wherein the at least one input device is arranged and oriented such that the electromagnetic radiation input into the plasma generation area by means of the at least one input device passes through an access opening in a cavity of the work piece disposed in the plasma generation area.
53. Combination according to Claim 52, wherein the pressure of the process gas in the plasma generation area is settable to a value of 100 Pa at maximum.
54. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 and 53, wherein the plasma generation area contains nitrogen or an inert gas as the process gas.
55. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 54, wherein the at least one input device is configured to input a microwave radiation into the plasma generation area.
56. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 55, wherein the device comprises a device for generating the electromagnetic radiation.
57. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 56, wherein the device comprises a device for generating an electron cyclotron resonance magnetic field in the plasma generation area for the generation of an electron cyclotron resonance effect.
58. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 57, wherein the device comprises a plurality of the input devices for the input of the electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area.
59. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 58, wherein the device comprises at least one feeder device for feeding one or more gases and/or a gas mixture to the plasma generation area.
60. Combination according to Claim 59, wherein at least one of the at least one feeder device is disposed adjacent to one of the at least one input device, which is configured to input the electromagnetic radiation into the plasma generation area.
61. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 60, wherein the device comprises an antechamber to receive the work piece before the curing process.
62. Combination according to Claim 61, wherein the combination comprises an evacuation device for evacuating the antechamber.
63. Combination according to any one of Claims 61 and 62, wherein the antechamber is provided with a device for subjecting the work piece in the antechamber to a non-plasma generated microwave radiation.
64. Combination according to any one of Claims 61 to 63, wherein the device comprises an antechamber transport device to transport the work piece from the antechamber into the plasma generation area.
65. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 64, wherein the device comprises a discharge chamber to receive the work piece after the curing process.
66. Combination according to Claim 65, wherein the combination comprises an evacuation device for evacuating the discharge chamber.
67. Combination according to any one of Claims 65 and 66, wherein the device comprises a discharge chamber transport device to transport the
work piece out of the plasma generation area into the discharge chamber.
68. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 67, wherein the work piece has at least one undercut and/or at least one shaded region.
69. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 68, wherein the work piece comprises an electrically conductive material.
70. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 69, wherein the work piece comprises a metallic material.
71. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 70, wherein the work piece comprises a plastic material and/or wood.
72. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 71, wherein the process gas contains nitrogen, helium and/or argon.
73. Combination according to Claim 58, wherein at least two of the input devices have different input powers from one another.
74. Combination according to Claim 58, wherein at least two of the input devices differ in design.
75. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 74, wherein at least one reflector is provided in the plasma generation area to reflect the electromagnetic radiation generated in the plasma.
76. Combination according to Claim 75, wherein at least one of the at least one reflector in the plasma generation area is configured as a mirror film.
77. Combination according to any one of Claims 75 and 76, wherein at least one sub-region of boundary walls of the plasma generation area is configured as the at least one reflector.
78. Combination according to any one of Claims 75 to 77, wherein the at least one reflector comprises aluminium and/or stainless steel as reflective material.
79. Combination according to any one of Claims 75 to 78, wherein the at least one reflector is removable from the plasma generation area.
80. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 79, wherein the device comprises at least one suction device to draw off gas from the plasma generation area.
81. Combination according to Claim 80, wherein at least one of the at least one suction device comprises at least one throttle valve for varying the pressure in the plasma generation area.
82. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 74, wherein the device comprises an at least partially electrically insulating holder, by means of which the work piece is electrically separated from boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
83. Combination according to Claim 82, wherein the work piece is connected to a different electric potential from the electric potential of the boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
84. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 74, wherein the device comprises an electrically conductive holder, by means of which the work piece is connected in an electrically conductive manner to boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
85. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 74, wherein the work piece is connected to the same electric potential as boundary walls of the plasma generation area.
86. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 85, wherein the work piece is connected to earth potential.
87. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 86, wherein the radiation-curable coating on the work piece is curable by the UV radiation or by heat or by a combination of the UV radiation and heat.
88. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 87, wherein the device comprises a device for subjecting the work piece before, during and/or after generation of the plasma to a non-plasma generated microwave radiation and/or to a non-plasma generated infrared radiation which is not generated in the plasma.
89. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 88, wherein the device comprises a device for drying the work piece before, after and/or during generation of the plasma.
90. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 89, wherein the device comprises a device for subjecting the work piece to a pressure lying below atmospheric pressure, before generation of the plasma.
91. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 90, wherein the device comprises a device for subjecting the work piece, before generation of the plasma, to a pressure lying below atmospheric pressure, which is higher than the pressure, to which the work piece is subjected during generation of the plasma.
92. Combination according to any one of Claims 52 to 91, wherein the device comprises a device for generating a magnetic field in the plasma generation area.
93. Combination according to Claim 92, wherein the intensity of the magnetic field generated by the device for generating the magnetic field is variable during the curing process.
94. Combination according to any one of Claims 92 and 93, wherein generation of the magnetic field in the plasma generation area is delayable in relation to the start of the curing process.
95. Combination according to any one of Claims 92 to 94, wherein the intensity of the magnetic field generated by the device for generating the magnetic field in the plasma generation area is spatially variable.