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RadTech 2002 Yields High Performance

RadTech 2002: Curing at the Speed of Light

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, USA—Attendance at the ultraviolet/electron beam technology conference/expo last month seems to be in keeping with the science and industry utilization of UV/EB technology: it's expanding—at least that topped the attendance discussion swirling around on Day Two of the four-day event.

Held at the Indianapolis Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis (April 28–May 1), the RadTech 2002 exhibition was situated in one hall of the center and included a focused conference line-up, gleaning extremely high interest from attendees. Attendance at this year's event is estimated at 2,500, according to show organizer Goyer Management.

PFFC traveled to the show and observed as attendees perused the exhibition during "free times," hours when the technical programs were not in session; however, attendees seemed to take advantage of the focused banquet of UV/EB information available at RadTech 2002. The keynote address alone packed the meeting ballroom in which it was held (see CIBA photo below).

Though UV/EB technology still doesn't enjoy the widespread use of more traditional processes (for instance solvent- and/or water-based inks), industry professionals attending RadTech seemed confident of the technology's continued expansion and integration. "UV/EB offers advantages that cannot be achieved with other technologies," reports RadTech*. "By nearly every financial measurement, the use of UV/EB ecourages greater manufacturing efficiencies, improved production speeds, and superior end-products that result in increased market share and higher profit margins while being environmentally friendly**.…" (*RadTech Report, January/February 2002, p11; **"[A] study, undertaken by RadTech North America in the early 1990s [proves] the repulpability of UV/EB cured paper [and] has removed a potentially large impediment to the growth of the market segment," p10)

According to RadTech, between 1995 and 2000, UV/EB curing in North America increased from approximately 45,000 metric tons of formulated products to more than 80,000. "This equates to an overall annual growth rate of about 10 percent, [which] can be broken down into four major application areas:

  • coatings (largest: paper @ 20,000 tons; major end uses: overprint varnishes [OPV] for paper/paperboard, resulting in high-gloss finish to such products as packaging materials);

  • inks (44% litho; 32% screen; 21% flexo, in which major application area is in tag and label industry);

  • electronics and photopolymers (15,000 tons of UV/EB formulated products; figure includes half of photopolymer printing plates, which account for nearly half of total); and

  • adhesives (3% of total UV/EB US market; includes laminating, pressure-sensitive, and optical adhesives)

The RadTech Report (as well at this year's trade show and conference proceedings), identifies several emerging areas for UV/EB applications, which include:

  • composites (wood, i.e. wood doors)

  • automotive;

  • UV-powder coatings); and

  • and digital printing (* see RadTech Report, January/February 2002, p11)

The Report also updates the FDA status on the electron beam side of the technology:

Sun Chemical announced the introduction of an eletron-beam coating, which is Federal Drug Administration (FDA) compliant for direct food contact. This low-extractable coating is used in such applications as flexible film, paper packaging, multi-wall sacks, and food cartons. In the annoucement, Sun indicates that the 'coatings may be used in direct contact applications under all conditions of use and in contact with all food types in full compliance with the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with all applicable food additive regulations, provided coatings are applied, cured properly and do not exceed an applied film thickness of eight microns.'"(RadTech Report, January/February 2002, p12)

Following are some of the supplier/product highlights introduced/presented at this year's RadTech trade show:

Ciba's Dr. Godwin Berner giving RadTech 2002 Keynote

  • "Low odor, low migration photoinitiators for UV-cured coatings" were among new products introduced by Ciba Specialty Chemicals. In addition, part of the the RadTech 2002 keynote address was given by Ciba's Dr. Godwin Berner. If you didn't get a chance to see Ciba at the show, visit ciba/radtech2002.

  • The Dow Chemical Company introduced ERL-4140, a monomer Dow says "enables development of unique products with cycloaliphatic epoxide funcationality," which company officials say has implications for proprietary development in both coatings and flex-pack inks products:

…ERL-4140 cycloaliphatic expoxide monomer for use in developing new UV cure resins. This monomer contains an ester capable of alcoholysis or transesterification reactions with a variety of alcohols and polyols. These reactions allow formlators to develop a wide range of specialty resins.
"ERL-4140 monomer opens the door for formulators looking for new products with cycloaliphatic epoxide functionality in a tailored resin," says Victor Bull, global market manager for cycloaliphatic epoxides at Dow.
Formulators can use ERL-4140…to prepare many different cycloaliphatic epoxide materials for use in a variety of end-use applications, including thermal- and UV-cured coatings, composites, electrical insulators, electronic encapsulation, adhesives, acid scavengers, and chemical intermediates.
Dow entered the UV cure market last year, when the company acquired CYRACURE™ cycloaliphatic epoxide resins as part of its merger with Union Carbide Corp.…
"Developing and marketing this new monomer was a natural next step for our business," says Bull. "Many forumlators have come to rely on CYRACURE cycloaliphatic epoxide resins for high-performance applications. Now, these same formulators can develop cycloaliphatic epoxide materials of their own -- tailored to meet the specifications of many given applications."

More information about ERL-4140 and other Dow products can be obtained by calling 800/441-4369 (North America); +31 20 691 6268 (Europe); +1 517/832-1426 (Latin America); and +60 379 694239 (Asia Pacific countries). Visit Dow at dow.com.

  • Eckhart introduced metallic inks at this year's event:

Ultrastar® UV (for flexo and gravure printing) and Topstar® UV (for offset), which according to co.: "…deliver eye-catching results by producing 'foil-like' effects for labels, flexible packaging, and cartons."

Metalstar® Hybrid metallic inks, co.'s "latest development to serve rapidly growing demands of UV technology required on conventional sheetfed offset presses."

Rotostar® UV 825 series, "one-component, high-performance metallics are designed to print on range of film and paper for p-s label/narrow web market."

Visit Eckart America at eckartamerica.com.

  • Sartomer revealed the use of UV applications in the emerging automotive market with TEAM UV, a special racecar that, according to Sartomer:

TEAM UV is a cooperative effort intended to demonstrate the superior cosmetic and performance characteristics of new adhesives, liquid and powder coatings, and pretreatment chemistries. Zinc-rich, corrosion-resistant coatings are used in the racecar's fasteners, brake rotors, and other metal parts. The frame is primed with an autophoretic process, and then a UV-powder topcoat is applied for added protection and enhanced appearance. The body underwent a three-step UV-coating process: UV cured primer, a "flip coat" color base coat, and a UV clear coat for a dazzling purple finish. The alloy wheels were pretreated and then UV coated."

Says Paul Elias of Sartomer: "RadTech is an ideal forum for displaying the TEAM UV racecar and provides a perfect opportunity to increase awareness of UV-curing's immense capabilities. Even though UV/EB technology has been in existence since the 1950s, it's only been in the last few years people have taken a serious look at UV/EB coatins in exterior automative applications. The success of the TEAM UV project is indicative of what's to come of such curing applications for automotive parts." More information about Sartomer is at sartomer.com.

  • Primarc UV, a subsidiary of Nordson Corp. exhibited its full line of UV curing lampheads at RadTech 2002. According to the mfr., UV curing lamps are being used by printers and industrial coaters more and more to increase their production and improve operations. More info about Primarc UV technology is available at primarcuv.com.

Other converting-industry relevant companies exhibiting at RadTech 2002 included:

RadTech 2002, of course, included several more exhibitors, in addition to its focused technical program.

Also, the event featured a "Product Showcase," which revealed the increasingly myriad ways UV/EB technology is utilized in many everyday products. More information about RadTech 2002, its sponsors, exhibitors, and participants is available at radtech.org.

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