Market Growth Is Forecast for UV and EB

CHEVY CHASE, MD — Pointing to the significant operational and “enabling” benefits of the process, suppliers of ultraviolet (UV) and electron beam (EB) technology are bullish on near-term growth prospects, according to the RadTech International biennial survey North American Market Update. Survey respondents, including more than 80 industry suppliers and end-users, project market growth of 6%-9% each year over the next three years.

Respondents reported growth of UV- and EB-formulated product usage up over 8% during the period 2000 and 2001, to just over 77,000 metric tons. During much of that period, the US manufacturing sector was in decline, leading up to September 11, when the US economy fell into a broad recessionary climate.

Respondents suggest the moderation in growth of UV/EB from previous double-digit levels reflects overall weakening economic conditions, rather than any lessening in enthusiasm for the technology.

“There are a number of applications where UV/EB is establishing a foothold, and industry penetration is expected to grow significantly,” explains RadTech president James Reese of DSM Desotech. “Survey results point to a diverse list covering a wide range of techniques and substrates, including digital printing, rapid prototyping, adhesives, automotive, and food packaging.”

While these areas are expected to help propel growth, most UV and EB usage is in well-established applications. Survey respondents identify 14 industries where the share of UV or EB already accounts for between one-third to nearly 100% of industry processes — including fiber optics, the manufacture of CDs and DVDs, premium packaging, screen printing, tags and labels, and more.

According to David Diehl of PPG, incoming president of RadTech, “UV and EB are fast, automated processes that contribute to the bottom line by greatly increasing productivity, reducing scrap and waste, and lowering inventories. While past surveys indicate that pollution prevention and environmental compliance issues had been motivators in the use of the technology, the current results spotlight ‘speed’ and process simplification as the driver for industry growth.”

The survey also asked about the most important limitations to adopting UV/EB technology, with most responses focusing on a basic theme: The industry still has a big job to do to educate potential customers. Suggestions for overcoming this hurdle include providing potential users with better information about capital equipment cost justification for the process; data on “applied” costs, rather than just material costs of per gallon or pound (for formulations); and accurate information about how the health and safety characteristics of UV and EB generally compare favorably with traditional processes.

Looking at the next five years, respondents were asked to project which applications now in the early stages of development have the greatest probability of “widespread success” for UV/EB application by 2007. The top four responses include coatings for plastics, impactless printing (ink jet, digital printing), wide web flexo, and PSAs.

The survey is conducted every two years. For more information contact RadTech at 240/497-1242;

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