Manufacturers across a wide range of industries including commercial printing, product decoration, medical device, electronics assembly, furniture, cabinet, flooring production, automotive; and many others gravitate toward UV curing for the inherent advantages the technology offers. A brief list of benefits include:
The rapid curing speed of UV light leads to shorter cycle times, improved lead times for customers, and reduced labor costs for the manufacturer. UV curing is also relatively easy to manage, only requiring simple UV-curing dispensing equipment, and no racks or ovens – in contrast to heat curing. Since most UV curing material is also a single component, there is no need for mixing, therefore bypassing the potential issues that come with it?
Compared to thermally cured formulations, ultraviolet inks, coatings, and adhesives cure extremely fast, almost instantly. This makes UV an ideal choice for high-speed production lines including printing, fiber optic cable, wide web converting and others.
With UV curing, light replaces heat as the force that drives the chemical reaction. UV sources (especially LEDs) are well suited to curing parts made of materials easily distorted or damaged by excessive heat.
When an ink, coating, or adhesive cures rapidly, the reduction in free time presents less opportunity for dirt and other airborne contaminants to get into the finish and cause cosmetic or functional defects. Unlike typical convection ovens, UV curing generally has far less air movement stirring up unwanted, foreign materials. For aesthetically demanding or high-value parts, a positive result of UV curing is less costly scrap and rework due to dirt and contamination.
Reduced Space & Processing Time Requirements
UV production lines can be compact since the need for long thermal drying tunnels is eliminated. Besides, parts exit the line immediately ready for post-cure processing and packing. This combined space and time saving allows for leaner manufacturing and just-in-time production, which eliminates work-in-process and reduces production-scheduling hassles. Plastic parts, for example, can be taken from the mould, placed directly onto the UV finishing line, cured, and then packaged for shipment.
UV cured formulations are highly cross-linked polymers with numerous bonds among the resins. The result is a robust, scratch-resistant surface with excellent durability and chemical resistance. Nevertheless, this does not mean that UV cured materials are brittle and inflexible. UV formulations for a flexible, soft touch and other tactile or haptic effects are used for many commercial applications.
UV curing technology is environmentally friendly due to the lack of harmful chemicals involved in its process; this produces less chemical waste and reduces the regulatory and disposal costs for the manufacturer. High-intensity UV light, however, is regarded as ionizing radiation, which can cause harm to the skin and bodily functions; therefore, sufficient care must be taken when handling UV equipment.
Less Waste & Clean-Up
Since UV formulations only cure when exposed to ultraviolet light, materials can be left in the machine and application equipment for extended periods with minimal risk of gumming up dispensing nozzles or setting-up in the pan, tray, pail, or pump. UV also makes clean-up easier as spills, spitting, or over-spray can be more easily wiped away.