Technical Insight 007: UV stability – Protecting your most valuable assets

The effects of ultraviolet radiation on vehicles can be seen daily on our roads. The most obvious example is the fading visible on red vehicles such as Post office vans. Whilst all colours are affected by UV, the effects on red and orange materials are most severe. As all industries strive to use more environmentally friendly products, UV protection is no longer a simple fix.

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight causes damage to many materials such as plastics and polymers. The damage caused can take the form of chalking, cracking, peeling, fading and loss of colour. The severity of this damage varies depending on the material sensitivity and the environment that the materials are subjected to. The spectral sensitivity varies from material to material – eg. for durable materials shortwave UV is the primary cause of polymer degradation.
When UV radiation breaks a polymer down the surface is more susceptible to mould. Dirt pick up is increased, often causing pronounced staining of the sealant and body side of the vehicle.

Because of our planet’s inconsistent climate, it’s important that UV protecting products are tested rigorously to ensure that they are fit for purpose where they are actually used. There are many outdoor testing facilities around the world, but there is some debate over which environment is optimum for use as a benchmark.

In the Forgeway lab we carry out extensive testing on many different polymer chemistries to ensure our products are robust enough for their end use, wherever that may be. To test our products we use a QUV accelerated weathering tester which reproduces the damage caused by sunlight, rain and dew. This rigorous testing is yet another reason why our products aren’t just fit for purpose, they’re fit for tomorrow.