UV/EB Raw Materials
Issues such as rising energy costs and environmental regulations are driving the market for UV/EB technologies.
By Kerry Pianoforte
As energy costs continue to climb, UV/EB technologies are expected to reap the benefits. UV/EB
“Noveon continues to see and expect growth in the energy curable markets,” said Josh Rosenheck, commercial platform manager, Noveon Surface Modifiers.
“The radiation curing industry, from our viewpoint, fared as we expected last year,” said Scott Ravech of Cytec Surface Specialties. “We expect the industry to continue growing 5 to 7 percent for the next few years.”
Sartomer also reported typical 7 to 10 percent growth in the radiation cured area and expects larger growth in the future. “As energy costs have skyrocketed the last several years, the industry is finding the low energy cost of UV-curing technology a big advantage over old, energy-intensive technologies,” said Bruce Farina, vice president Photocure, Sartomer. “UV/EB curing will greatly decrease costs for the ink and other coatings industries.”
“The energy curable aspect of Dynamic Color Systems continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate,” said David Grabacki, president of Dynamic Color Systems. “We expect energy curables to continue to grow.”
“The industry continued with high growth, above the ink industry average, though with slower overall growth than the previous year, and we expect industry growth to continue through 2007,” said David Woolven, head, business line imaging and inks, NAFTA, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. “Ciba, as a major supplier to this industry for photoinitiators, but also pigments and other additives, grew in line with this.”
“We experienced a fairly stable year last year and expect much the same this year,” said Andrew Koch of Ashland Inc.
Environmental regulatory issues such as the Clean Air Act and VOC taxation in Europe also make UV/EB an attractive alternative to traditional technologies.
“2006 has shown strong double digit growth across product lines and applications,” said Marcel Gatti, vice president energy curing for Rahn AG. “The European economy clearly has gained speed while the North American market showed no signs of weakness. Further contributing to the growth in UV/EB – that we expect to continue throughout 2007 – are regulatory issues, as well as emerging markets in Asia.”
As the printing industry continues to evolve, radiation cured printing technologies are making inroads into a number of printing processes.
“We’re seeing strong growth in litho, followed by flexo, especially for packaging applications,” said Michael Kucharski of Cytec. “Also, digital printing technology continues to push into screen and short-run applications.”
“One of the more challenging aspects of this industry is managing the increase of raw material costs and commodization of some markets,” said Mr. Koch.
“Like other industries today, the radiation curing industry must balance performance, quality and support with the dynamics of price,” said Mr. Ravech.
“There is continued activity to move formulations forward into flexo ink for packaging, including indirect food contact applications, which requires new developments in all components,” said Mr. Woolven. “The continued development of UV curing inkjet inks and the lowering cost of the formulations also allow expansion into more printing jobs which have been served by conventional inks in the past.”
In general, there is an increasing trend toward acceptance and growing base of UV converters. According to Mr. Gatti, other trends in the market include “quality orientation of ink manufacturers with needs for low migration, low residuals, high purity products specifically for food packaging applications and increasing penetration of UV flexo and UV inkjet.”
“Overall, customers are looking for more performance, value and innovation from their raw materials suppliers,” Mr. Ravech said.
“The technical requests we’re receiving reflect how the printing industry is evolving,” added Jo Ann Arceneaux of Cytec. “We appreciate every opportunity to support our customers, and to help them develop and trial new formulations.”
“We are seeing a greater desire from our customers to use additives based on tri-functional monomer technologies,” said Mr. Rosenheck. “This allows the additives to be part of the reactive material within the ink formulation, as opposed to something that is a hindrance to cure speed.”
“We are seeing wide acceptance of the new products we have brought to industry in recent years: pigment dispersion, monofunctional monomers, screen ink vehicles and low viscosity pigment grinding vehicles for UV liquid and inkjet inks,” said Mr. Farina.
A key area for growth is indirect food packaging. “Energy curable inks for indirect food packaging printing is a strong growth area,” said Mr. Kucharski. “The adoption of the EU regulations will have a big impact on the industry globally. Security and bank cards, printing and publishing, and point-of-purchase and outdoor applications, like signs and banners, are also strong growth areas.”
Although indirect food packaging offers good growth opportunities, it also remains one of the biggest technical challenges facing the radiation curing industry today.
“The continuing technical challenge is to develop formulations for inks for indirect contact food packaging,” said Mr. Woolven. “At the same time we have to maintain a proper balanced approach to product safety issues, base on real data and risk analysis. In order to support the move towards better products for indirect food contact, we are making great efforts in our laboratories.”
Another challenge is the initial cost associated with switching over to rad-cure. “One challenge that Noveon has seen is that it is a big commitment, financially and otherwise to shift operations to handling a chemistry/product line that continues to grow rapidly,” said Mr. Rosenheck. “We are dealing with them by continuing to investigate in new manufacturing and lab equipment and techniques to support our growth in this area.”
UV/EB raw material suppliers are meeting these challenges by developing value-added products for their customers.
“Increasingly in the more mature product areas the challenge is to drive down production costs to meet the competitive challenges from copy products,” said Mr. Woolven. “We have also broadened our selling range to allow customers the opportunity to have a global supplier with established supply chains and quality reputation for more products. Customer specific blends also add an enhanced service element to the business, where customers utilize Ciba’s expertise in photoinitiator chemistry and innovation to combine ingredients to allow for easy incorporation of the cocktail into the customer’s end use formula.”
“We do our best to deliver the best possible product to all of our customers,” Mr. Grabacki said. “We will not jeopardize the integrity of our products by using inferior raw materials in the attempt to hold pricing. So if an increase is warranted, we must pass the increases along.”
“Developing formulations for UV/EB inks that can print on lower-cost, harder-to-adhere-to substrates is a big challenge,” said Ms. Arceneaux. “We’ve embraced this challenge by introducing new adhesion promoters, resins and other ink components for a wide range of plastic applications.”
Companies continue to work closely with their customers to develop new products for their markets.
“We’re speeding up technological innovations, streamlining new product introductions and creating new value in applications-specific development,” said Mr. Ravech. “We’re also making sure our customers have the breadth and depth of technical resources they feel are necessary for their success.”
New UV/EB Raw Materials
The following listing includes new products introduced to the ink industry last year.
5200 Blazer Parkway
Lexington, KY 40509
Phone: (614) 790-3333
• EB laminating adhesive
Comments: In October, the former Northwest Coatings, whose business was purchased by Ashland Inc. on Dec. 5, 2006, was granted an FDA Compliant statement for its EB laminating adhesives on film constructions that are more typical of an actual production setting. The company also introduced its UV-water-based screen printable formable matte coatings.
Ciba Specialty Chemicals
HQ: Klybeckstrasse, CH-4002
540 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, NY 10591-9005
Phone: (914) 785-2000
Fax: (914) 785-4533
• Irgastab UV 22
Comments: Irgastab UV 22 is a new additive that increases the long-term stability of inks and coatings throughout their life cycle, from manufacturing to printing and curing. An in can stabilizer, Irgastab UV 22 is an effective liquid radical scavenger that prevents the gelation of UV curable compositions while having minimal impact on curing speed. Irgastab UV 22 is of low toxicological and eco-toxicological hazard potential.
1950 Lake Park Drive
Smyrna, GA 30080
Phone: (800) 433-2873;
Fax: (770) 970-8391
• Ebecryl 325
Comments: Ebecryl 325 UV curable resins is designed to be used with other UV/EB curable oligomers and monomers to improve the adhesion of inks and coatings on porous and non-porous substrates. It also improves the adhesion of UV laminating adhesives over waterborne and energy curable inks.
• Ebecryl 453
Comments: Ebecryl 453 UV curable resin was developed for the production of flexo inks designed for emerging applications in film packaging, folding cartons and narrow web tag and label printing. UV/EB-cured products containing the new acrylate are characterized by high scratch resistance, good hardness and solvent resistance and fast cure response.
• Ebecryl 846
Comments: Ebecryl 846 UV curable resin helps provide the proper hydrophillic-lipophillic balance for good lithography, with very high reactivity when cured by UV or EB.
• Ebecryl 848
Comments: Curable by UV or EB, Ebecryl 848 UV curable resin is designed for either wet or dry offset printing on porous substrates. Inks with this new acrylate exhibit excellent ink flow, transfer and printability.
• Ebecryl 350 and 1360
Comments: UV curable resins (silicone) increase slip and improve substrate wetting.
• Additol S
Comments: Additol S stabilizers can improve the shelf life of UV/EB curable inks. These in-can ink stabilizers work with a variety of formulations and pigments, and provide stabilization at high levels of pigmentation without negatively affecting cure speed.
379 Interpace Parkway
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Phone: (973) 541-8514
Fax: (973) 541-8501
• Aerosil R7200
Comments: Aerosil R7200 is a deconstructed fumed silica which allows for high levels of loading without impacting viscosity. It improves mechanical properties of finish formulation, increases UV stability of final ink formulations, improved hardness and scratch resistance, anti-settling, anti-sagging and thixotropy.
Dynamic Color Systems, Inc.
161 Tower Drive, Unit G
Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Phone: (630) 321-9360
Fax: (630) 321-9316
• Epoxy Polyester Combination Red 57:1, Yellow 12, Yellow 13, Green 7, Blue 15:3, Red 53:1 RLC, Carbazole Violet 23
• Straight Epoxy Red 57:1, Yellow 12, Blue 15:3
• UV Red 122, UV Permanent Rubine, UV Yellow 139, UV Yellow 185, UV Carbazole Violet 23, UV Blue 15:0, EB Reflex Blue, UV Red 266, UV Red 269
• Custom UV flushes in customer specific, customer provided or co-developed energy curable vehicles for more challenging applications.
800 Estes Ave.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone: (847) 593-5200
Fax: (847) 427-1500
• Hybrid lithographic flushing and grinding vehicles
• Hybrid lithographic ink vehicles
• UV anti-misting compounds
9911 Brecksville Road
Cleveland, OH 44141
Phone: (216) 447-5000
Fax: (216) 447-7304
• Carroll Scientific Ink Additives for Energy Curable Inks
Comments: Noveon offers a variety of ink additives designed to provide good rub-resistance and slip for energy curing systems. Carroll Scientific CC-7645 and CC-7649 additives are polyethylene compounds, while CC-7647 is a PTFE compound. All are ideal for use in energy curable inks.
Rahn USA Corp.
1005 North Commons Dr.
Aurora, IL 60504
Phone: (908) 730-6682,
Fax: (908) 713-9053
• Genorad 21
Comments: Genorad 21 is an in-can stabilizer for UV metallic inks and is the latest complement to Rahn’s stabilizer product family. Genorad 21 is designed specifically for use in UV-curable metallic inks. With its unique chemistry, Genorad 21 greatly improves the stability of UV metallic inks, allowing for true one-pack systems.
• Genomer 2235
Comments: Genomer 2235 is a low viscosity aliphatic epoxy diacrylate, recommended for use in radically curable flexo and screen inks and industrial coating applications where high reactivity and low viscosity are required. It also has very good flexibility and adhesion.
• Genomer 2280
Comments: Compared to straight Bisphenol-A epoxy acrylates, Genomer 2280 offers an excellent balance of properties with high reactivity, high hardness, good flexibility resulting in excellent toughness. Genomer 2280 also has improved pigment wetting properties for some applications.
• Genomer 5142
Comments: Genomer 5142 is a very low viscosity, high amine value acrylated amine synergist. It offers lower odor and lower yellowing than conventional tertiary amines. It is recommended for screen inks and most coating applications.
• Genomer 5161
Comments: Genomer 5161 is a low viscosity and the highest amine value in its range. It offers much lower odor, lower yellowing and very low pigment bleed compared to most other acrylated amine synergists. It is recommend for flexo and screen inks and most coating applications.
Sartomer Company, Inc.
502 Thomas Jones Way
Exton, PA 19341
Phone: (610) 363-4100,
Fax: (610) 363-4140
• CN3108, CN3109 and CN3110 UV/EB-curable structural laminating oligomers
Comments: CN3108, CN3109 and CN3110 UV/EB-curable structural laminating oligomers provide excellent adhesion to glass. Benefits of the products include improved adhesion to glass, non-yellowing, moisture resistance and and low viscosity. CN3108, CN3109 and CN3110 impart structural adhesion levels when used to bond to glass substrates. These products exhibit excellent color and have low viscosities to provide formulating latitude. They also demonstrate excellent moisture resistance for optimum substrate sealant properties.
5020 Spring Grove Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45232
Phone: (513) 681-5950
Fax: (513) 632-1537
• Spectra Ray Products
Comments: Spectra Ray products for offset (g codes) can be run on conventional presses with no roller swelling either as straight UV or as a hybrid system. The UVD codes have very low viscosity and allow excellent low film weight printing for fast curing.