Energy curing has been one of the bright spots for the graphic arts industry, as ultraviolet (UV) and electron beam (EB) curing continue to enjoy solid growth. The key drivers – faster production, better performance properties and environmental friendliness – are even more attractive to end-users now.
With this in mind, RadTech International NA hosted uv.eb West 2009, a two-day conference held at Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX in Los Angeles, CA. This biennial show focused on new applications, including the growing possibilities for printed electronics and photovoltaics.
In a sign that there is strong interest in energy curing, uv.eb West 2009 was a solid mix of suppliers and end-users, with concurrent sessions on the second day that covered the gamut from photovoltaics and inkjet to wood, metal and plastic and defense and aerospace coatings.
The conference began on Feb. 17 with a full-day look at UV and EB. The morning session began with David Harbourne of Fusion UV Systems, who presented “Intro to UV/EB Technology.”
Graphic arts remains the largest market for UV/EB. Mr. Harbournenoted that in 2008, UV printing was a $1.4 billion business, which is forecast to grow by 7 percent annually to forecast to nearly $1.9 billion by 2013. He noted that labels and folding cartons are the largest segments in printing and packaging, respectively, with sales of more than $500 million each in 2008.
Flexible packaging is seen as an area with the potential for excellent growth. Mr. Harbourne noted that UV inkjet inks are also anticipated to enjoy explosive growth: UV inkjet ink sales were $25 million in 2008, but are projected to reach $175 million by 2013.
Organic photovoltaics are another strong opportunity for UV and EB, due to the ability to mass produce flexible solar cells through roll-to-roll printing.
“Organic electronics represents a paradigm shift for electronics,” Mr. Harbourne said. “The plan is to leverage electronics into printing, where it clearly can be mass produced.”
The interest in environmentally friendly technologies is clear. UV and EB have good track records, with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) identifying UV/EB as “advanced technologies.”
“What California does today, the rest of the U.S. does tomorrow, and we have a great deal to talk about with UV and EB,” Mr. Harbourne said.
Steve Lapin ofPCT Engineered Systems next provided an “Overview of UV/EB Curing Equipment,” noting that “UV and EB are complementary, not competing, technologies.” Mr. Lapin was followed by Jim Raymont of EIT Instrument Markets, who talked about “Process Control & UV Measurement.”
“A Breakthrough in the Use of UV/EB Materials for Food Packaging,” by Ron Golden of FocalPoint Consulting, spoke about favorable U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rulings on the use of UV/EB.
“Food packaging material is subject to FDA regulation, not the method of manufacturing,” Mr. Golden said, adding that there could be broader end-user acceptance of food packaging printed with UV/EB components.
Rita Loof, RadTech’s directory of regulatory affairs, next discussed “Stay in Compliance with UV/EB: A Regulatory Overview.”
“UV/EB can ease regulatory burdens and help industry stay in compliance and in business,” Ms. Loof concluded. “Increased production and VOC reduction can go hand-in-hand.”
Paul France, principal engineer-tech. entrepreneur printing and decoration, global packaging and device development for The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), closed the introductory session with a special presentation from an end-user’s perspective.
Mr. France told the audience that just in terms of Tide alone, P&G produces 450 million bottles of Tide annually. P&G has 400 printers, all of whom are UV capable, and for P&G, development is a collaborative effort.
“Everything we do, we have to do globally, and we need innovation on a global scale,” Mr. France said. “We first try to do innovations internally, and if we can’t find a solution inside, we look to see what our partners can do. We do what we do best and find someone who can do the rest.”
The afternoon session began with Dr. Raymond Oliver of Arrow Science Consulting, who presented the keynote speech on new technologies.
“It is important to expand the horizon of future technologies,” Dr. Oliver said. “Nanosciences and nanotechnologies are giving us new functional materials.”
uv.eb West 2009 attendees checked out the numerous tabletop exhibits.
Dick Stowe, Fusion UV Systems, discussed “Advanced UV Measurement & Process Control,” followed by Paul Mills, UVRobotics, with “Advancements in UV Curing Equipment: Robotics, LEDS, & Beyond.”
Tony Bean of Sun Chemical discussed “What End Users Should Know About Their UV/EB Formulations.” He noted the key drivers to switching to UV and EB, adding that very few people ever change back.
“Thousands of people have converted to UV and EB, and very few have reverted because UV and EB are good technologies,” Mr. Bean said.
Mike Idacavage of Cytec, who is serving as RadTech International NA’s president, next spoke of “Cutting Edge Uses of UV/EB Technology.” He pointed to seven growth areas for UV and EB: photovoltaic systems; sustainability; waterborne, UV/EB curable materials; field applied applications; hard coats for plastics; food packaging and auto refinishing.
Mr. Golden closed the first day’s session with “Environmental, Health, and Safety Factors for UV and EB Technology.”
There was also a special short course, “Practical Polymer Chemistry for the UV/EB Professional,” led by Dr. Byron Christmas of the University of Houston – Downtown.
On Feb. 18, uv.eb West 2009 broke up into a variety of day-long concurrent sessions. For graphic arts, there was a morning session on photovoltaics (PV), as well as a full-day session on inkjet.
Photovoltaic Applications for UV/EB Curing was led off by Martin Rosenblum of Vitex Systems, whose topic was “Barrier Coatings for PV Systems,” an excellent overview of PV and barrier systems.
Mr. Rosenblum was followed by “UV-Curable High Refractive Index Materials for Light Management,” presented by Jeffery Wang of Cytec. Mr. Wang noted that fast market changes generate many technological challenges.
Josh Oliver, Sartomer Company, discussed “Assessing the Exterior Durability of UV/EB Cured Systems,” comparing various potential systems for PV in terms of weatherability. Allied PhotoChemical’s Michael Kelly closed the PV session with “Sustainable UV Conductive Inks – Delivering Economic ROI and Sustainability for Electronic Applications.”
“UV is not only a sustainable technology, but it is also an economical solution that is critical for U.S. manufacturers today,” Mr. Kelly concluded.
In the inkjet session, Inkjet to Conventional Printing: Sustainability in UV/EB Curing, Jim Hunt of FASTSIGNS, Inc. opened with “Sign Shop Perspective on UV Inkjet.”
“UV is of outstanding benefit to digital graphics industry, and opens doors to higher volume sales and profitability,” Mr. Hunt said.
Mr. Golden followed with “Benefits of UV/EB Curing.” Dr. Don Duncan of Wikoff Color then presented “UV/EB Sustainability: No Bias, No Bull,” a straight-forward look at UV and EB.
Rick Sanders of Energy Sciences, Inc. concluded the morning portion with “Reducing Your Carbon Footprint with Energy Curing Technologies.”
Paul Lindquist of Hexion Specialty Chemicals led off the afternoon session with “Converging Technologies Driving UV Inkjet Applications.” Tom Molamphy of Phoseon then discussed “Advancements in the Application of UV-LED for UV Printing,” and Gerald Bonetto of Printing Industries of Southern California closed the inkjet session with “Update from Printing Industries of Southern California.”
Outside of the graphic arts, UV/EB West 2009 featured excellent sessions on wood finishing, aerospace and defense applications, and industrial applications utilizing metal and plastic coatings. Speakers on hand included end-users such as Taylor Guitars and the U.S. Air Force.
Organizers and industry leaders were delighted with the turnout and participation at UV/EB West 2009.
“Given the current economic circumstances, we did quite well, and considering the concerns about energy and the environment, there is a lot of renewed interest in our technologies,” said Gary Cohen, executive director of RadTech International NA.
“In light of the present economy, the content and engagement of the participants has been outstanding,” Mr. Idacavage concluded. “It’s been an excellent two days.”