Project Info

Project Title 
Project Number 
Project Year(s) 
2005 - N/A

The purpose of this project is to address the challenges the materials fabrication industry is facing from tightening profit margins, competition from abroad, and stricter environmental regulations. These challenges are pressuring materials fabricators to cut costs and improve productivity, quality, and efficiency to remain competitive. The materials fabrication industry is responsible for giving form to most of our modern conveniences; it makes the metal and rubber products, machinery, printing and publishing, furniture, and plastics. An enormous amount of energy goes into producing this range of goods, over 262 billion kWh per year. In addition, it is estimated that another 700 billion kWh of secondary load can be attributed to these sources within 100 miles of the primary plant(s).

EPRI's Materials Fabrication target offers technical applications, services, and communication and marketing tools that can help the materials fabrication industry meet these competitive challenges. Technologies like transverse flux heating, infrared curing, and powder coating can improve productivity, product quality, and environmental performance. In addition, EPRI's plant surveys and demonstrations provide information and innovative approaches to re-tailor traditional processes and cut costs in this competitive sector expertise with real customer solutions to real problems.

This project supports the PIER Program objectives of:
• Improving the energy cost/value of California's electricity by providing technologies and methods to increase energy efficiency for materials fabrication industries; and
• Improving the environmental and public health costs/risks of California's electricity by providing technologies and methods that reduce emissions of materials fabrication industrial sites.

Proposed Outcomes:
1. Support the use of infrared and ultraviolet powder coatings by providing technical information on these processes.
2. Support the use of electric infrared heating (IR) in industrial processes by providing market analyses and technical, economic, and performance information.
3. Conduct a Tailored Collaboration entitled Develop and Deliver Seminar and Demonstrations of UV Powder Coatings.

Actual Outcomes:
1. Infrared and ultraviolet powder coatings.
• Tech briefs were published on improving powder coating performance, curing polyurethane powder coatings in IR ovens, and on curing powder coatings on ATV accessories.
• A report was published on UV curable coatings to assist California fabricators and energy service companies in better understanding UV curing.
• A cost-comparison worksheet was developed for induction curing of coatings.
2. Electric infrared heating.
• Tech Application Sheets were published, describing real-world applications of advanced materials fabrication technologies, including impacts on costs, energy consumption, emissions, and productivity. Applications include aluminum aging, drying and curing of silk, steel strapping, cryogenic processing of metals, and injection molding.
• Guidelines were published to support the sales and marketing of induction heating to industrial customers.
• Software was developed for estimating and comparing the operating costs of high-temperature heating options.
• A technical report was published on reducing energy consumption and increasing productivity in the thermal processing of metals.
• Twenty-three industry profiles were published, describing issues, concerns, processes, energy use, and opportunities for increasing use of advanced technologies. Industries include automotive stamping, canned fruits and vegetables, carpets and rugs, computers and office equipment, copper foundries, iron and steel foundries, meatpacking, farm machinery, hospitals, petroleum refining, and pulp and paper mills.
• A monthly newsletter was published on developments in EPRI materials fabrication research.
3. A series of five seminar and demonstrations were held at Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, Irwindale, and San Diego to present information on dry powder coatings cured by infrared or ultraviolet light. The sessions included technical presentations and equipment demonstrations. In addition collateral materials were produced, including the Technology Guidebook for Electric Infrared Process Heating.

Project Status: The Commission's participation in this target ended as of December 31, 2000.