RadTech 2016 Brings Latest News to the Industry

By David Savastano, Editor | 05.24.16

Presentations cover innovations, new products and applications in the energy curing field.

RadTech UV+EB 2016 Technology Expo and Conference, organized by RadTech North America, completed its three-day run at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Chicago, IL, with attendees learning about the latest news in ultraviolet (UV), UV LED and electron beam (EB) curing.
With more than 100 presentations and new product showcases as well as five panels to select from, attendees had much to choose from, and there was plenty of news to hear.
“UV/EB Curing for Automotive Applications,” was of particular interest, with Chris Seubert of Ford Motor Company and Cynthia Templeman of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America on hand to discuss the potential roles for UV and EB curing.
“Aside from headlamps, UV/EB hasn’t made the headway we thought it would,” Seubert noted. “There is currently no pull to coat the full vehicle because UV can’t pass exterior reliability requirements. However, fuel economy regulations will force fundamental changes. Ford is committed to sustainability and fuel economy. The issues are real and not going away.
Seubert also talked about potential alternatives to steel.
“A typical car is 67% iron-based,” Seubert added. “Aluminum is a lightweight alternative to steel. It is highly recyclable and companies won’t have to retool manufacturing. It is also already used. The 2015 F-150 has an all-aluminum exterior, which has led to a 700-pound reduction in weight. In the case of carbon fiber, we need reliable proof and the price needs to come down.”
“UV curing provides a large reduction in process length and operating costs,” Templeman observed. “It has to overcome durability, shadow coating from complex shapes and environmental factors like humidity. Overcoming these issues will have potential benefits.”
“Functional Coatings to Enhance Decorative Packaging” was the topic for Kristy Wagner of Red Spot.
“Successful packaging can be as important as the product itself,” Wagner said.
Five leading consumer product companies were on hand for a panel discussion on innovation, led by moderator Lee Goldberg of Product Design and Development and Medical Design Technology magazines. The panelists were Dr. Sharon Tracy of Steelcase Inc.; Alrick Warner of P&G; Chris Seubert of Ford Motor Company; Todd Fayne of Pepsi Co.; and 3M’s Robin Wright of 3M.
“We use UV for architectural wall coverings,” Dr. Tracy said. “Building codes and regulatory compliance are important factors for us.”
“We use UV for headlights, and are looking at fuel cells and adhesives,” Seubert reported. “It has to meet or exceed what we do today. No one is working on UV resins for paint.”
“It must meet consumer need,” Wright said. “Technical evolution is moving down a path. Innovation is starting a new path.”
“Everything must be cured,” Fayne noted. “There can be no migration. We can’t endanger customers. We need to exceed government regulations.”
Warner noted that P&G uses UV curing for a lot of applications.
“We use UV for printing and decorating packages, such as Gillette, plus manufacturing superabsorbent diapers,” said Warner. “We monetize our innovations. We go through a series of tests; we also won’t slow down our lines to run your inks. Everyone in the supply chain has to check off on it. Fitness for use is important. We won’t injure our users.”
“There is a difference between being inventive and innovative,” Warner added. “Xerox invented the computer, and Apple innovated it.”
David Biro of Sun Chemical spoke on “Advances in Wide Web Ebeam Flexible Packaging Printing.”
“Food packaging applications need high-definition graphics, gravure like quality, good product resistance, low odor and low migration,” Biro noted.
During the Advances in Electron Beam Equipment and Applications session, Mikhail Laksin of IdeOn LLC spoke on “Novel Technology of Electron Beam Curing in Vacuum.”
“It is challenging to apply protectable EB curable coatings free from surface defects under atmospheric pressure using high-speed traditional printing processes. Both free radical and cationic chemistry can be used in a vacuum,” Laksin noted. “Our sample tested extremely clean. No EB cure chemistry extractables were detected on the non-coating side.”
The panel of Food Packaging, which featured Dr. Stephen Klump of Nestlé; Nick Ivory of Sun Chemical; Peter Walther of Siegwerk, Don Duncan of Wikoff Color, and George Misko of Keller and Heckman, offered insights into the regulatory challenges facing food packaging.
“Consumer perception plays a huge role,” Klump said. “We must go beyond regulatory requirements. We want full transparency. Harmonization of global regulations would be a good goal. Nestle finds that companies come to us with low bids that aren’t using our guidelines.”
“I think companies like Nestle will decide what ingredients can be used,” Ivory noted. “The German ordnance will become the standard for Europe.”
“You have to sit together with your customer and end user to have an exchange,” Walther added.
The regional global market overviews were an area of interest. RadTech North America president Peter Weissman of Quaker Chemical offered his insights into the North American market.
“The North American market for UV/EB is broken down to 77% in the US, 12% in Canada and 11% in Mexico,” said Weissman. “China is the top emerging market, followed by India, Brazil and Mexico. The UV/EB market grew by 4.7% by volume in 2015, and is expected to grow by 5.5% over the next three years.”
RadTech Europe president David Helsby of Rahn then offered his thoughts on what he sees in the European market.
“Overall, UV has had heavy growth over the years,” Helsby said. “There has been a major shift in how we formulate with monomers. Monomers and oligomers used to each be half of the market, and monomers are now 56% of the market.”