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RadTech Hosts Successful UV LED 2015

The conference opened with Jennifer Heathcote of Phoseon Technology, who discussed “Technology Trends Driving the Adoption of UV LED Curing.” Heathcote gave a general presentation on UV LED curing equipment. “LEDs are going to increase in output,” Heathcote noted. “Laboratory LED work is being done at much higher levels.” She added that higher outputs currently come with a tradeoff of shorter life.

There is interest in curing at other UV wavelengths, but right now, Heathcote said that everything is being done at the UV-A level. “In three to five years, we will start to have products with UV-B and UV-C,” she added.

“Construction and operation of UV LED curing systems have more in common with a smart phone than a microwave or arc lamp.”
Jennifer Heathcote, Phoseon Technology

Heathcote said that UV LED systems are far more complex than traditional mercury lamps. “Construction and operation of UV LED curing systems have more in common with a smart phone than a microwave or arc lamp,” she noted, pointing out the use of semiconductors and clean rooms.

All in all, the UV LED market is making major strides in all areas. “Life cycle testing has exceeded 50,000 hours,” Heathcote reported. “Market opportunity is expanding rapidly. Since 2008, the amount of projects and high-level meetings has grown by magnitudes. Everyone is looking at UV LED. Digital inkjet remains the largest market and, in the next few years, UV inkjet will be almost entirely LED. UV flexo is growing by leaps and bounds, and screen and adhesives also are growing.” To illustrate the growth in UV LED in flexo, Heathcote added that at Labelexpo 2015, 35 percent of the UV systems on presses were LED, compared to less than 5 percent in 2011.

Regulatory concerns over the use of mercury lamps in Europe have come forward, and there are calls to eliminate conventional UV systems. This may lead to UV LED becoming the preferred option. “There is more regulatory scrutiny of mercury lamps,” Heathcote said. “It’s hard to predict.”