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Advancements in UV LED Curing for Wood Coatings

UV LED curing has progressed over the past five years and is available for a range of applications, including wood coatings, as discussed by Phoseon Technology

U V curing is a polymerisation process that uses UV energy to change a liquid to a solid. Upon absorption of the UV energy, the photoinitiator (Pl) produces free radicals, which initiate cross-linking with binders(monomers and oligomers) in a polymerisation reaction to cure or solidify the ink, coating or adhesive. UV formulations also incorporate various additives such as stabilisers, wetting agents, adhesion promoters, defoamers and pigments to provide desirable characteristics or colour of the cured material.

UV LED technology drastically reduces energy consumption and significantly reduces workpiece surface temperature.

UV LED curing technology has advanced significantly in the past few years and is now readily available for a variety of applications, especially in the area of wood coatings. There are many benefits driving companies to move toward acceptance of UV LED technology, such as higher productivity and a more environmentally friendly solution, which more and more end customers are demanding. As manufacturers are developing UV LED curing systems, knowing how the key sub-components work together, will help in creating the optimum system and thereby reducing the overall environmental impact of the process and, at the same time, maintaining or improving productivity and product performance.

The benefits of UV LED are numerous and significant for wood coating operations. UV LEDs are more environmentally friendly because they do not generate ozone and contain no mercury. The electrical to optical conversion efficiency of UV LEDs is higher, plus the instant on/off and no warm-up time results in a combined saving of 60% on electricity. They are a cool source, largely due to no output in the infrared range. This reduced heat eliminates complicated cooling mechanisms such as cooling air (quieter operation) and external shutters, and enables applications on heat sensitive wood substrates such as glued veneers and resinous woods.

Not only is UV LED curing for wood coatings possible today, UV LED lamp technology has progressed to the point where air-cooled lamps have the performance needed for these demanding applications. The combination of continuous high irradiance with uniform output and flexible scaling, now allows users to implement air-cooled LED curing into environments for wood coatings applications that were previously only attainable with watercooled solutions.

Industrial processes require products that can work in tough, sometimes harsh environments. UV LEDs are solid state devices and their high reliability and low energy consumption are ideal for wood coatings applications. UV LED curing technology is ideally suited for the wood coatings industry for applications such as edge coating, roller coating and digital printing. UV LED technology drastically reduces energy consumption and significantly reduces workpiece surface temperature.