The UV curing sector is a versatile part of the coatings industry. In the last years especially the UV LED technology had a huge impact on the sector. We spoke with Charles Bourrousse and Frédéric Taché from Sartomer about their views on the technology.
How prevalent is UV LED technology?
Today, the perceived advantages of UV LED, including increased productivity, higher quality and a more environmentally friendly technology, has enabled UV LED curing to become major and even dominant in many UV curing applications, as well as to turn traditional processes to UV. The most important fields where the use of UV LED technology has increased, are wood coatings and printing inks, to the point where some lines are now "full” LED.
More recently, the development and marketing of low migration systems specifically developed for use with LED has resulted in a greater acceptance across all sectors of the coating and printing industry in EU where indirect food contact is critical. Moreover, the reduction in heat generated during the curing process has enabled thin film, thermo-sensitive plastic substrates to be employed. This has helped in the rapid development in the flexible packaging applications.
Further progression of UV LED will be based on the development of new wavelength lamps and/or more adapted photoinitiator packages. As a key supplier to the UV industry, Sartomer continues to develop & recommend market leading solutions for the highest surface cure performance.
What are remaining challenges (related to the UV curing technology in general)?
Any technology will always entail new technical challenges to maximize performance: adhesion, outdoor stability, durability, low migration. New visual or sensorial effects are also a key driver for future developments. We expect to see growing interest in sustainable and compliant formulation approach from the market players, guided by influential brand owners recommendations. REACH compliance is also a key subject we are addressing with our customers to ensure a smooth market continuity.
Finally, additive manufacturing is a major area of development today, for which we make the most of our UV curing technology knowhow & experience to provide our customers with the highest quality & performance 3D printing solutions.
What are the latest developments in raw materials for UV-curable adhesives?
The electronic market is driving the demand for new products in the field of UV curable adhesives. UV curing is a key technology because it enables a quick and clean process. The high performance UV cured adhesives will provide low viscosity systems enabling high barrier properties, optimal light transmission, low yellowing and good flexibility. This is the ideal solution for the Light Optically Clear Adhesives (LOCA) used in all our smartphones and tablets.