Role of Environmental Conditions on Drying of Paint

(1) Troy High School, Troy, Michigan
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Most manufacturing industries paint their products to protect them from environmental degradation and enhance aesthetics. Reducing paint drying time is an important step in improving production efficiency and reducing costs. To find the most effective way to dry paint, we performed a series of 60 experiments by varying different environmental conditions: humidity, lighting, substrate roughness, and paint color. We hypothesized that decreased humidity would lead to faster drying, ultraviolet (UV) light exposure would not affect the paint colors differently, white light exposure would allow for longer wavelength colors to dry at a faster rate than shorter wavelength colors, and substrates with higher roughness would dry slower. We constructed a custom paint booth to control the environmental conditions for a variety of painted samples and regularly weighed the samples to monitor the drying rate. Our experiments showed that trials under high humidity dried slightly faster than trials under low humidity, contrary to the hypothesis. We found that white paint had the slowest drying rate compared to red, yellow, and blue paints under ambient and white light, while under UV light the drying rate of all paints were similar to one another. Colored paints dried the fastest on a metal substrate followed by canvas and then wood, following the increase in roughness of the substrate. Overall, our studies show that the paint drying process is very much dependent on its surrounding environment, and optimizing the drying process requires a thorough understanding of the environmental factors and their interactive effects with the paint constituents.

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