What is UV Curing?
Ultraviolet curing (commonly known as UV curing) is a photochemical process in which high-intensity ultraviolet light is used to instantly cure inks. UV curing increases production speed. It also increases ink adhesion, which reduces scratching or flaking.
Who Uses UV Curing?
Since it was originally introduced in the 1960’s, UV curing has been widely adopted in many industries including automotive, telecommunications, electronics, graphic arts, converting and metal, glass and plastic decorating. UV curing is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry, and now constitutes approximately 4% of the industrial coatings market. UV curing has grown more than 10% per year, displacing conventional water and solvent-based thermal drying processes due to its increased productivity, improvement of product quality and performance, and environmentally friendly characteristics.
A Quick Explanation of the Science Behind UV Curing
Using light instead of heat, the UV curing process is based on a photochemical reaction. Liquid monomers and oligomers are mixed with a small percent of photoinitiators, and then exposed to UV energy. In a few seconds, the products – inks, coatings or adhesives instantly harden.
UV curable inks and coatings were first used as a better alternative to solvent-based products. Conventional heat and air-drying works by solvent evaporation. This process shrinks the initial application of coatings by more than 50% and creates environmental pollutants. UV curing is environmentally friendly, with no loss of coating thickness, and no loss of volume. This results in higher productivity in less time, with a reduction in waste, energy use and pollutant emissions.