There are many basic facts about UV curing systems that most people don’t know about. These facts are essential, especially if you are looking to use these systems for one purpose or another, such as for printing. Read on to learn more about the top 10 things most people don’t know about UV curing systems:
1. UV Curing
UV curing is otherwise referred to as ultraviolet curing. It refers to the photo-chemical process in which high intensity UV light is used for purposes of instantly curing (drying) adhesives, coatings, and inks.
It offers many unique advantages over traditional drying and curing methods – including but not limited to:
– Increase in production speeds
– Reduction in the rates of rejected jobs
– Improvement in solvent and scratch resistance
– Facilitation of superior bonding
2. Using UV Curing
Introduced in the 60s, UV curing systems are now widely available in the market. They are typically used in such industries as plastic and glass decorating, converting metal, graphic arts, electronics, telecommunications, and automotive. As a multi-billion dollar industry, UV curing constitutes around 4 percent of the industrial coating market. It has even displaced solvent- and water-based thermal drying processes due to the unique advantages it offers.
3. How UV Curing Works
Any UV curing system you will come across works through a simple process. Typically, UV curing uses light (instead of heat) through a photochemical reaction. Liquid oligomers and monomers are mixed with some photo-initiators before being exposed to UV energy. After a couple of seconds, the products to be cured (adhesives, coatings and/or inks) will harden instantly.
4. Common Applications
So, what can you do with a UV curing system? Essentially, these systems offer many benefits to manufacturers. More specifically, they are used for:
– Producing adhesives, coatings and inks with improved physical properties
– Faster production capacity and speeds
– Reducing work-in-process
– Reducing clean-up and set-up labor
– Environmentally-friendly processes for energy savings and ensuring there are no emissions controls
– Ensuring less floor space is needed
– Increasing yield and reducing scrap
5. UV Curing Improves Physical Properties
Manufacturers typically consider UV curing systems because it improves gloss and ensures better resistance against abrasion and scratches. Similarly, these systems provide better chemical resistance, greater strength, elasticity, hardness, and adhesion, and improved resistance to crazing.
6. It Leads to Faster Production Capacity and Speeds
Any process that requires less space, allows for higher production speeds and involves less direct labor undoubtedly makes more resources and facilities available for purposes of improving production capacity. With an UV curing system, you should be able to enjoy higher throughput, increased machine utilization and less down town. Ultimately, this will improve the capacity of your plant. These systems will also increase your productivity, better your plants, and ensure you use your equipment more profitably.
7. It Reduces Work-in-Process
If you wish to reduce manufacturing cycle time, you should consider getting your own curing system. By reducing the work-in-process, these systems will save capital and improve cash flow significantly.
8. Reduces Clean-Up and Set-Up Labor
Since UV chemistries never cure unless they are exposed to UV energy, you can leave them on overnight knowing that they coating or ink will not dry in the machine. This is an advantage if you are in the graphic arts printing industry, or if you are using your UV curing system for coding/marking machines, or plastic decorating machines.
9. It Requires Less Floor Space
Most drying ovens require more floor space that the typical UV curing system. For instance, if you have a drying over for conventional web coating, you need at least 500-1000 square feet for it. If you are paying $0.50 / ft. 2 / month, this floor space will cost you anywhere between $3000 and 6000 every year. With a UV dryer, you would only require 50 to 100 square feet of floor space.
Similarly, thermal dryers for one pass bottle screen printers measure around 40 feet in length. In comparison to a 3-color printer that has a UV curing system inside, every color station will only need to measure 13 feet lengthwise.
In the same way, most processes require longer cure times. This will significantly increase the floor space you have to get. For instance, potting and adhesive applications employing 2-part adhesives (or RTV compound types) need to allow for cure time. This time is measured in terms of days. Therefore, if the number of parts is exceptionally large, it follows that you will need more floor space.
Similarly, fiberglass composite parts need more time to cure. Since the parts are somewhat large (showers and bathtubs), it follows that you have to get more floor space for the curing processes. With UV curing systems, on the other hand, you can use less space because they require less time to cure.
10. UV Curing Reduces Scrap and Increases Yield
UV curing takes a couple of seconds to work. This means that you can spot curing problems almost immediately. Therefore, with these systems, you are going to enjoy a reduction in the amount of scrap produced.
For instance, two part adhesives typically take several days to cure completely. After that, you need to perform quality control testing. During this time, you are more likely to end up with many scrap parts.
In coating and painting applications, the reduced time it will take to cure the materials with UV means that you will reduce the chances that particles and dust will contaminate the incomplete surface as you paint it. In most UV systems, there are quality control procedures you can follow to inspect the adhesive, coating, or ink application before you start the UV curing process. In case you find problems with your ink, adhesive, or coating, you can remove it before it ruins your entire project. This means that you can easily solve problems if you are using an UV curing system, and return the part back into the production line.
There are many other things about UV curing systems that most people don’t know about. However, the above 10 are the most common. Use the information in this handy guide to inform yourself more about these systems and to opt for one the next time you are looking for the best, most effective, and most affordable choice in the market today.