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Highlights on UV LED varnish on wood

Introduction to UV LEDs for the wood market
During the production of kitchen furniture, wood floors or cladding, varnishing is a crucial step of the process that offers a better protection along with an aesthetic appeal to the wood.

The many standards applying to varnishes mainly concern their resistance to breaking, stain and scratches. In order to meet every demand of the market, several varnish formulations have been created as well as different curing methods: thermal, infrared, mercury lamps, etc…

The curing process using UV LEDs illumination is one of the fastest there is and will soon replace current solutions such as mercury lamps. The photo-initiators present in the formulation are activated upon UV light insulation and instantly harden the varnish layer. Only a few seconds of exposure is needed for the varnish to be fully cured and have the required characteristics of brightness, resistance to thermal shocks, solidity…

UWAVE and the Technological Institute FCBA (Forest Cellulose, Construction-wood and Furniture)
The FCBA is a technological institute whose mission is to promote technical progress, participate in improving the performance and quality assurance of industries.

Aware of the growing popularity of UV LED technology in the wood industry, the FCBA wanted to create a project involving different players in the field (paint manufacturers, manufacturers of UV LED equipment and end users). The objective was to determine the technical viability of such a solution, to draw conclusions on the formulation and its results after the varnish has been applied.

In order to verify the curing quality on varnishes, FCBA has carried out numerous standardized tests including anti-scratch, breakage and stain resistance tests.

  • Energy saving, Money saving
  • Strong varnishes, more resistant against scratches
  • Increased production speed

Conclusion
The results are excellent on two points. First of all, some varnishes have shown a very high scratch resistance up to 3 times higher than current varnishes. Secondly, the production speed can be doubled, depending on the application, without loss of varnish resistance.

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LED has become dominant in many UV curing applications

The UV curing sector is a versatile part of the coatings industry. In the last years especially the UV LED technology had a huge impact on the sector. We spoke with Charles Bourrousse  and Frédéric Taché from Sartomer about their views on the technology.

How prevalent is UV LED technology?
Today, the perceived advantages of UV LED, including increased productivity, higher quality and a more environmentally friendly technology, has enabled UV LED curing to become major and even dominant in many UV curing applications, as well as to turn traditional processes to UV. The most important fields where the use of UV LED technology has increased, are wood coatings and printing inks, to the point where some lines are now “full” LED.

More recently, the development and marketing of low migration systems specifically developed for use with LED has resulted in a greater acceptance across all sectors of the coating and printing industry in EU where indirect food contact is critical. Moreover, the reduction in heat generated during the curing process has enabled thin film, thermo-sensitive plastic substrates to be employed. This has helped in the rapid development in the flexible packaging applications.

Further progression of UV LED will be based on the development of new wavelength lamps and/or more adapted photoinitiator packages. As a key supplier to the UV industry, Sartomer continues to develop & recommend market leading solutions for the highest surface cure performance.

What are remaining challenges (related to the UV curing technology in general)?
Any technology will always entail new technical challenges to maximize performance: adhesion, outdoor stability, durability, low migration. New visual or sensorial effects are also a key driver for future developments. We expect to see growing interest in sustainable and compliant formulation approach from the market players, guided by influential brand owners recommendations. REACH compliance is also a key subject we are addressing with our customers to ensure a smooth market continuity.

Finally, additive manufacturing is a major area of development today, for which we make the most of our UV curing technology knowhow & experience to provide our customers with the highest quality & performance 3D printing solutions.

What are the latest developments in raw materials for UV-curable adhesives?
The electronic market is driving the demand for new products in the field of UV curable adhesives. UV curing is a key technology because it enables a quick and clean process. The high performance UV cured adhesives will provide low viscosity systems enabling high barrier properties, optimal light transmission, low yellowing and good flexibility. This is the ideal solution for the Light Optically Clear Adhesives (LOCA) used in all our smartphones and tablets.

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Introduction to UV LEDs for the Wood Market

During the production of kitchen furniture, wood floors or cladings, varnishing is a crucial step of the process that offers a better protection along with an aesthetic appeal to the wood.

The many standards applying to varnishes mainly concern their resistance to breaking, stain and scratches. In order to meet every demand of the market, several varnish formulations have been created as well as different curing methods: thermal, infrared, mercury lamps, etc…

The curing process using UV LEDs illumination is one of the fastest there is and will soon replace current solutions such as mercury lamps. The photo-initiators present in the formulation are activated upon UV light insulation and instantly harden the varnish layer. Only a few seconds of exposure is needed for the varnish to be fully cured and have the required characteristics of brightness, resistance to thermal shocks, solidity…

UWAVE and the Technological Institute FCBA (Forest Cellulose, Construction-wood and Furniture)
The FCBA is a technological institute whose mission is to promote technical progress, participate in improving the performance and quality assurance of industries.

Aware of the growing popularity of UV LED technology in the wood industry, the FCBA wanted to create a project involving different players in the field (paint manufacturers, manufacturers of UV LED equipment and end users). The objective was to determine the technical viability of such a solution, to draw conclusions on the formulation and its results after the varnish has been applied.

In order to verify the curing quality on varnishes, FCBA has carried out numerous standardized tests including anti-scratch, breakage and stain resistance tests.

Conclusion
The results are excellent on two points. First of all, some varnishes have shown a very high scratch resistance up to 3 times higher than current varnishes. Secondly, the production speed can be doubled, depending on the application, without loss of varnish resistance.

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UV-Led has Gained Higher Acceptance

The most important fields in which the use of UV-LED technology has increased are wood coatings and printing inks. We spoke to Frédéric Taché and Charles Bourrousse of Sartomer about the current state of the art in UV-LED technology and UV-curable adhesives.

How prevalent is UV-LED technology?
Frédéric Taché: Today, the perceived advantages of UV-LED, including increased productivity, higher quality and a more environmentally friendly technology, have enabled UV-LED curing to play a major, if not dominant, role in many UV-curing applications, as well as to convert traditional processes to UV. The most important fields in which the use of UV-LED technology has increased are wood coatings and printing inks – even to the extent that some lines are now “full” LED. More recently, the development and marketing of low-migration systems specifically developed for use with LED has led to greater acceptance across all sectors of the coatings and printing inks industry in the EU wherever indirect food contact is critical.

Charles Bourrousse: Moreover, the reduction in heat generated during curing has paved the way for the use of thin-film, heat-sensitive plastic substrates. This has facilitated rapid development in flexible packaging applications. Further progress in UV-LED will be based on the development of new wavelength lamps and/or better-adapted photoinitiator packages. As a key supplier to the UV industry, Sartomer continues to develop and recommend market-leading solutions for the highest surface cure performance.

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Innovation Award to Europe’s BJS Group: UV LED curing for Wood

Sweden’s BJS Group was awarded one of the 2014 Radtech Emerging Technology Awards as one of the first manufacturers to use UV LED technology in high volume wood manufacturing production. According to the company owner and CEO, Par Lidaker, the low curing temperatures of LED make it possible to cure materials such as pine and other resinous woods with significantly lower reject rates. Along with more consistent curing the heat reduction translates into a better product since there is less thermal stress on the boards and no longer any uncured surfaces on the boards. The LED equipment is currently used at the company’s plant in Humpolec, Czech Republic, BJS Group clients include a major European furniture retailer.

BJS Production Director Kaj Johansson, says “LED curing means that the guys on the line have a more stable process to work with. They don’t have to keep checking the efficiency of the lamps which is more efficient and the working environment is better there is no ozone and its cooler in the summer.” He adds that, “we have worked with Becker Acroma (a brand of Sherwin-Williams) for more than 20 years, and they have helped us improve a number of processes and we were immediately interested when they announced LED curing.”

The BJS Humpolec facility has seven roller coating machines and three areas for curing the flat surfaces of the boards which are mainly coated with a white coating. According to Lidaker, the LEDs have a lifespan of 15,000 hours, five times that of conventional lamps and perform consistently across the entire 1.3 meter width of the production lines. The old system would vary as lamps lost their efficacy and radiation levels varied.

Lower operating and curing temperatures (70oF, compared to 160o-180oC) help to reduce maintenance while improving the working environment. Together with consistent curing this process translates into a better end product for BJS customers.

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Sherwin Williams Introduction to LED Curing

For decades, Sherwin Williams has supported customers in improving their production lines. Now we are packing all that experience into our most promising new coating method. By taking the step into LED cured coatings, we bring environmental care and energy savings to a new level.

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Furniture Maker Rolls Out Becker Acroma LED Curing

Wood Coatings

LED cure coatings are currently used in production at furniture maker BJS’ plant in Humpolec, Czech Republic. The company is among the first to use this technology that was recently launched under the Becker Acroma brand.

There are a number of advantages available with LED cure coatings over traditional UV curing solutions. In particular, they produce an even and consistent cure across the whole width of a board, while avoiding high heat and ozone emissions. This both enhances product quality and improves the manufacturing environment. Low curing temperatures make it possible to cure materials such as pine and other resinous woods with significantly lower reject rates. In addition, LED technology also saves energy and reduces maintenance costs.

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UV LED: eBook #1

This eBook is dedicated UV LED curing technology and includes articles on the following:Applications and Market Developments, Operation & Output Measurement, Curing Systems, Diode Evolution and Manufacturing, Chemistry and Applications, and Market Overview.