By David Savastano • Editor
As attendees walk into the exhibit hall to see what is new at RadTech UV/EB Technology Conference & Expo 2010, it is clear that the exhibitors have a host of new products waiting. There is also a sense of optimism in the hall.
Jim Horgan, vice president of technology, Sartomer USA, said the increasing presence of end-users as well as the opportunity to see the latest technologies makes RadTech 2010 an important show.
“We hope to see many new or coming users of UV/EB technology,” said Mr. Horgan. “The RadTech organization has done a good job of promoting the show and technology, so we expect this will happen. We are always interested to see the developments that our customers, academia and our competition are realizing.”
Craig Baudendistel, technical sales manager for Shamrock Technologies, said that Shamrock places a high value on RadTech as the majority of attendees are from the technical functions.
“As a result, the return on invested time is high,” Mr. Baudendistel added. “Visitors are also highly focused and technical. Also, most of our customers will be in attendance. This unusual combination provides Shamrock with an opportunity to discuss problems and potential solutions directly with the people who encounter them. These discussions often open the door to further collaborative lab work and business relationships.
“Shamrock’s market for its unique radcure coatings has remained stable for the past 10 years, with very little volatility,” Mr. Baudendistel noted. “About five years ago, a number of companies began migrating to specialty UV/EB technologies, but that trend has largely dissipated. One of the market challenges appears to be rigid packaging and, as yet, a viable, ideal solution has not been developed.”
“RadTech is always one of our best shows,” said Patrick J. Heraty Jr., market segment manager, graphic arts, coating additives for Evonik Goldschmidt Corporation, Coating Additives/Tego Division. “It attracts a broad range of attendees: those who are very knowledgeable in radiation-curable systems as well as those who are learning. We always enjoy excellent contact with our current customers as well as potential new ones. We fully expect this show to be as exciting and interesting as previous ones.
“The demand for radcure coatings continues to be strong,” Mr. Heraty added. “Radcure technology offers the ability to solve problems that no other technology can match. The biggest challenges in the market right now are related to regulations and their ever-changing landscape. Differences in regulations between regions of the world make it increasingly difficult for our global customers and for us.”
Jill St. John, marketing services manager, North America, BYK USA Inc., said that BYK sees RadTech 2010 as the ideal place to inform the marketplace that BYK USA is committed, and has the resources to participate in optimizing the processing of environmentally friendly radiation cure coatings and inks.
Frank Cangelosi, market director – functional fillers and additives, Unimin Corporation, noted that RadTech 2010 is Unimin’s first appearance at RadTech, and he said that the company hopes to more broadly introduce its technology to a new audience, including its Minex functional fillers and extenders.
Mr. Cangelosi noted that UV continues to show growth relative to other coatings technologies.
“Compared to other coatings markets, radiation curing is growing rapidly especially due to environmental drivers and cost savings potential,” Mr. Cangelosi said. “The biggest challenge is the resistance to evaluate and install new technologies in an economy where survival is the first priority.”
Eileen Weber, UV product manager for Red Spot Paint & Varnish Co., said her company hopes to continue to show Red Spot’s strengths in its core areas, such as hardcoats for plastics, while also promoting technologies it has expanded upon, such as PVD to replace chrome plating.
“We hope potential end users will find RadTech informative and open the doors to further UV/EB growth,” Ms. Weber noted.
“The recession hit most every market sector very hard,” Ms. Weber said. “However, we are seeing recovery and some growth is every area albeit at varying rates. The current state of UV/EB coatings is pretty stable in traditional areas and there is a high interest and activity in non-traditional areas as a means to improve quality, performance and throughput as well as generate environmentally friendly alternatives to existing technologies.
“Regarding our business and areas of focus and expertise, we are seeing trends that push the envelope of durability with requests for extended weatherability from multiple markets,” Ms. Weber added. “Customers are looking for 10 to 20 years, depending on the application. Additionally, features like cleanability and chemical resistance are common requests, too. Environmentally friendly solutions with low to no VOCs (green technology) are also frequent requests. Because this is an inherent advantage of UV technology, this has broadened the scope of markets, market sectors and finishers investigating UV/EB technology.”
Dr. Alex Mejiritski, president, Spectra Group Limited, Inc., said that RadTech is ideal for meeting with potential customers.
“Our presence at RadTech maintains our name in front of those needing photochemical expertise, and we learn about new developments and technologies in our field better while being at RadTech,” said Dr. Mejiritski.
As the energy-curing industry has grown over the years, exhibitors noted that bi-annual RadTech conference has changed as well.
“The general theme has shifted over the years towards efficiency and the environment,” Ms. St. John said. “BYK will demonstrate our continued commitment to innovation and a focus on helping our customers achieve their green goals without sacrificing performance.”
“Smaller and offshore players continue to emerge, bigger players try to respond to the changes in the field, and more and more end user customers attend the show,” Dr. Mejiritski said.
“With all of the effort put forth by RadTech and member companies, we are starting to see more end-user attendance and involvement in the show,” Mr. Horgan concluded. “Their opinions really are key to improving the technology through real-world applications.”
Mr. Horgan noted that Sartomer has also changed as well, with its focus entirely on UV/EB.
“As of January 2010, the Sartomer of old was split into Cray Valley HSC and Sartomer USA, LLC,” Mr. Horgan said. “Sartomer USA, LLC is now a company fully focused on the research, development, promotion and commercial use of (meth)acrylates in a number of industries. The product development, application, sales, and marketing activity for the business is still based in Exton, PA.”
“Our U.S.-based R&D efforts, including product development and applications support, are particularly well focused on the needs of the UV/EB industry,” Mr. Horgan added. “Members of the R&D group will present papers that highlight work we are doing for UV/EB metal coatings, graphic arts and products derived from bio-renewable resources. We are offering a number of new products addressing these and other applications. We also have one quite forward-looking paper concerning development of barrier coatings using UV/EB curable products.”
“Unlike many other coatings shows with very broad representation, offerings and interests, RadTech to its credit has resisted the temptation to generalize,” Mr. Baudendistel said. “It has stuck to its knitting, remaining focused on a narrow technical topic of interest. As a result, the participation and interest by suppliers is keen, and attendance appears consistent and constant.”
“While the show has always been a wonderful asset for our chemists to learn and share new technologies, we are pleased to see the end user becoming a key focal point,” Ms. Weber said. “Introducing UV/EB technology into new markets is key for long-term expansion and growth.”
Mr. Heraty said that the RadTech conference continues to grow along with UV/EB technology.
“Each show has been better attended than the one before,” Mr. Heraty said. “The quality of the attendees, which has always been good, also improves every show. As this has occurred, the size of exhibits and thus the venue has increased as well. This has led to even more interest from the market. Radiation-curable systems might have been a novelty when RadTech began, but now it is recognized as a key technology to solving some of the most difficult issues in inks and coatings. Attendees are not prospecting about the possibilities; they visit to learn and to optimize this great technology.”