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Are laser projected markings a sustainable alternative to painted walkways?

As the fight against climate change heats up, companies are becoming increasingly conscious of their environmental impact. It’s no longer acceptable to do nothing. There are targets to meet. 

Here at Clarity Visual Management, we supply a range of floor markings, both physical and projects. Just like most customers, we are actively looking at ways to reduce our environmental impact. This article isn’t about us though. We want to discuss the most common question our customers ask us on this topic.

“How does a projected floor marking compare to a physically painted walkway and will it help us meet our sustainability goals?.”

Here at Clarity, we supply three very different types of floor markings, Painted walkways,  LED (GOBO) and Laser. These three types of floor marking projectors are quite different but can perform similar tasks. 

This article will discuss the different options and how they really compare to traditional floor markings and coatings..

By the end of the article, you will know what to look for when searching for a sustainable alternative to a painted floor marking and how they compare to a typical painted walkway.

Are Laser projected walkways a sustainable solution?

As a supplier of floor coatings for industrial applications, Epoxy resin based paints are the option we would normally recommend, Their durability and finish are really second to non. The sustainability of the different technologies of floor paint falls into 4 areas, The manufacture of the paint, The ‘grinding back’ required for surface preparation and then the VOC’s released from the curing paint system, The fourth aspect to a sustainable floor is the expected lifespan.

In comparison to this we need to look at the initial outlay (Cost) of a project floor marking, the running cost and the expected lifespan.

When customers ask us for sustainable products, we like to understand what they really mean. A request for ‘sustainable solutions’ could mean something different for each company. There are often two main options that could indicate what a customer wants:

  1. Energy consumption over time
  2. The effect on the environment (VOCs)

We’ll discuss each option to help you understand what each of these means. Maybe one of these options are what you mean by a sustainable alternative to a painted walkway.


What are VOC’s and how do they affect the environment?

Chemical components known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in most paints, VOC’s serve as the drying agent - when the paint is applied to a surface, VOCs are released into the atmosphere as part of the drying/curing process. These compounds are normally found in a gaseous form and pose a hazard to the immediate environment.

VOCs can significantly impact the environment. When VOCs interact with substances like methane or carbon dioxide, they can form harmful combinations. These mixtures contribute to the formation of ground-level smog, which can detrimentally affect plant health, hinder seed development, and impede fertilization processes. With the ongoing climate crisis leading to rising temperatures, phenomena such as heatwaves or overall warmer climates can exacerbate photochemical reactions, leading to increased production of low-level ozone.


What VOC’s are found in floor paints?

Epoxy floor paints contain around 40% VOCs, thats a significant number!, for every litre there is 400ml of VOC. MMA based paints offer much lower VOCs but that it is not without its problems and polyurethane paints can be higher at up to 45% VOCs.

The other factor which seriously affects the ‘sustainability’ credentials of an epoxy based paint is the fact that whenever the floor is repainted - it is necessary to grind off the old paint which also generates harmful airborne particles. 

By contrast, a laser projection emits no VOCs and even compared to the manufacturing process - offers a significantly lower VOC emission over the lifetime.


Energy consumption over time 

Like all products - there is a significant amount of energy required to manufacture the products - Epoxy paints are certainly no exception to this, Many of the raw materials for epoxy paints are sourced from all over the globe.

 Once an epoxy paint has been applied and it has cured - there is no energy consumption by it - until it is time to repair or  replace it. By contrast - a laser projector or an LED projector will continue to consume energy as long as it is being used. A typical LED projector operates at 50W whereas a laser projector can be as low as 1W. Overall, a laser projector is a highly efficient way to project a visual walkway and over the lifetime of the product - will consume considerably less energy.

The energy consumed by an LED projector or a laser projector can be further reduced with the introduction of motion sensors, these can be mounted in any area the projectors are deployed and will further enhance the ‘wow factor’ for visitors to the factory.

What is the expected lifespan of a projected laser floor marking compared to a painted floor?

Let's start with the painted walkway, this can vary wildly from just a few months to up to 2 years depending on the traffic and the environment in which is it used, we recently visited a customer where they struggled to get three months out of a walkway due to the abrasive dust produced by their manufacturing process. A projected floor marking can last over 5 years from a single projector on a motion sensor or over 2 years on permanently. The Clarity VM laser projectors have a 2 year warranty to cover this. An LED projector will last 5 years on constantly but does not have the same range or definition.


How far will a laser projector cast?

One of the limitations of an LED projector is that, depending on the lux level (brightness) in the factory - it will only really cast a ~2M long beam, so for a 30M long walkway - you will need 15 projectors. By contrast, a single laser projector could project across this distance if there is enough height, typically we would recommend 15M per laser. The typical cost of a laser projector is £1500 whereas an LED projector will cost nearer to £1000 plus switchgear and installation.


For more information about our factory fit-out products and the projector options - please download the guide below:

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