UV Curing Technology – A Smart Solution for Manufacturers
UV Curing is defined as ‘a speed curing process in which high intensity ultraviolet light is used to create a photochemical reaction that instantly cures inks, adhesives, coatings and other materials’.
This technology has gained momentum in the manufacturing sector in recent years and it is easy to see why. With a long list of benefits, UV light curing is recognised as the smart solution for original equipment manufacturers. In this latest blog post we explain the process of UV curing, highlight the benefits of this technology and explore some key UV curing products from Dymax, the industry leading manufacturer of UV curing systems.
Advantages of UV Curing
The incorporation of UV curing technology into a manufacturer’s production process can have enormous advantages including cost efficiency, enhanced quality, increased safety and boosted production.
One of the greatest draws of UV Curing technology is its rapid cure speed. This benefit is particularly important because of the positive ripple effect it has on production. Manufacturers will see a reduction in labour costs meaning less assembly stations are required. Furthermore, shorter cycle times and reduced work in progress will result in improved lead times for customers.
Another significant perk of UV curing technology is its simplicity. No racking or ovens are required and UV curing dispensing equipment tends to be less expensive than required for the heat curing process. In addition, since UV curing materials are single component, there is no need for mixing and issues with pot life are avoided, leading to less waste.
A final benefit of UV light curing technology is that it is environmentally friendly since it provides a safe alternative to the use of harmful chemicals. Manufacturers also benefit from reduced regulatory and disposal costs and production workers need not worry about any potential risks to their health.
UV Curing Systems
When selecting UV curing equipment, there are three main systems to consider – a conveyor system, a flood cure system or a spot cure system and each of these equipment categories have been designed to meet different objectives.
The focus of a UV curing conveyor system, for example, is consistency. Due to their high intensity, this system type eliminates stray UV light and offer users a consistent line speed and lamp height.
The Dymax UVC-5 Light-Curing Conveyor is one of our most popular UV curing conveyor systems, thanks to its great features.The UVC-5 Conveyor is supplied with a Teflon coated belt and one UV lamp. Users can manually adjust the distance between the belt and the lamp, as well as the belt speed, to suit their specific requirements. Other helpful features include air-cooled casing with an aluminium reflector for the bulb, a counter to track timing and an electric control unit located in the transportation device.
The UVC-5 Conveyor from Dymax is perfect for curing smaller parts and has the ability to cure materials applied to a whole range of substrates from metal to laminated materials.
An alternative to the conveyor curing system is a Spot Cure or Flood Cure system. With typical cure times between 1 and 30 seconds, these UV curing systems are well suited to users searching for a high speed cure.
The Dymax BlueWave QX4 is a Spot Cure system capable of UV light curing at high speed and high intensity. As a spot cure system, this equipment has been designed to cure small surface areas, making it well suited to more intricate applications. The Qx4 unit is also very compact, however its neat size does not compromise its powerful curing ability. The Dymax BlueWave QX4 is equipped with a foot controller switch and four different LED heads.
While a spot cure system focuses on a small spot with a diameter around 5-10mm, a flood cure system covers a larger area up to 6 inches squared. The Dymax BlueWave LED Flood System provides high-intensity curing energy for larger surface areas. The standard system includes one array, a power supply and power and interface cords. Easy to use, this Dymax UV Curing equipment can be used as a stand-alone system or integrated into an existing production line. The Dymax BlueWave LED system is available in three irradiator wavelength configurations allowing the operator to optimise the process between their light cure system and UV curing material.
UV Curing Materials
There are a wide selection of light curable materials on the market – from adhesives and coatings to maskants and potting compounds…
UV curing adhesives from Dymax are special in that they can bond to a wide range of substrates – even materials which are dissimilar. Available in a range of viscosities, UV curing adhesives cure capidly and provide a tough, clear bond. Notable UV curing adhesive products include Dymax 3025 for plastics, Dymax 425 for bonding glass and Dymax 6-621 for metals.
Light-curing coatings are designed to protect the surface of substrates and components from harmful agents. Coatings are commonly used on printed circuit boards but can also be used to provide a decorative cover on materials, depending on their composition. Dymax 9482 and Dymax 987 are two commonly used UV curing coatings. 9482 offers superior reworkability and excellent thermal shock and chemical resistance, whilst 987 is rigid in structure for high chemical and abrasion resistance. Both products contain a secondary cure mechanism, useful for applications in which the liquid may escape to an area that the UV light can’t reach but while 9482 has a secondary moisture cure, 987’s secondary cure mechanism is heat.
Dymax UV potting compounds are well suited to a number of electronics applications including shallow component potting and sealing of detectors, connectors, inductors, capacitors, RF circuits and many more. Processing in seconds, UV potting resins provide tenacious adhesion to a host of different substrates. The Dymax Multi-Cure 921 Series is a range of high tensile strength potting materials formulated for adhesion to metals, glass, ceramic and thermoset plastics.
Light-curable maskants provide a level of surface protection that cannot be obtained from traditional masking materials such as tapes and waxes. Dymax has a range of light curable masking resins available in varying viscosities and which can be applied through dipping, spraying, screen printing or by syringe. There are over 18 Dymax maskant products with each having its own unique set of characteristics. Dymax 738 for example is a thermal spray coating maskant which contains no nonreactive solvents. It provides great cavity and surface protection as well as high adhesion on nickel alloys or high-temperature steel. Dymax 750 also offers a high level of adhesion and as a peelable maskant, it cures tack free and is resilient to blast media.
UV Curing Accessories
Over and above the essential UV curing kit, there are various accessories available that will enhance or improve the UV Curing process.
The use of a Liquid light guide, for example, is the most economical way of delivering high intensity UV light to materials. Light guides come in two, three or four pole configuration and filter mount assemblies are available to prolong their shelf life.
A radiometer is a useful tool to have in the UV Curing process since they allow operators to monitor and record the UV light curing process – for example a low UV intensity measurement would indicate to the user that part of the apparatus needs to be replaced. Radiometers also have the capability to confirm if the operator is sufficiently shielded from the UV light.
Other accessories have been designed to offer protection from UV and visible light. Shields and stands offer protection from UV and visible light, whilst providing the user with clear visibility of the curing parts. Protective eye goggles are also recommended to provide additional protection from UV light exposure.
Ellsworth Adhesives supplies an extensive range of UV Curing products.
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