RadTech Europe, the international association promoting the radiation curing technologies, anticipates a full and exciting agenda of activities in 2015 – driven by unprecedented interest in the UV/EB curing technologies across an ever-widening range of industries. Established in 1988, the association was driven by a desire to create a formal profile for the industry’s even then extended value chain, and to establish a pan-European platform where members could meet, share knowledge, develop joint themes, and educate. That process continues today – in an even wider context.
New place, new format, new applications
RadTech Europe’s major focus will be on its 2015 conference – a biennial event which uniquely brings together its members’ diverse interests and expertise. The 2015 event’s headline is ‘UV/EB now: new place, new format, new applications’. Located this year in Prague, Czech Republic, 13-15 October, RadTech Europe 15 will offer an in-depth agenda featuring both plenary and parallel sessions, with a complementary exhibition which will additionally provide an ideal location for delegate networking, as well as for commercial presentations on new product introductions from RadTech Europe member companies.
The planned conference agenda reflects the variety of topics at the heart of the UV/EB market today – including water-based technologies, advances in photochemistry and polymerisation; developments in formulations, coatings, and equipment, graphic arts applications (including digital print and packaging); industrial usage from wood and paper coatings to plastics and 3D printing/additive manufacturing; and, of course HSE and safe usage.
There will be an additional focus on the considerable base of innovation in the industry, which is responding to the enormous interest in the benefits of radiation curing as compared to ‘traditional’ curing/drying technologies. New and emerging application areas, such as field-applied coatings, textiles, photovoltaics, aerospace, and the nanotechnologies, will be explored, along with tooling and technology advances, for example in the area of UV LED, and innovations in chemistries, synthesis routes, and the use of renewable materials.
EB curing seminar
The RadTech Europe 2015 calendar will feature additional events, such as a dedicated EB curing seminar to identify and evaluate the advantages -- in terms of low energy usage, low operating temperatures, and photoiniator-free systems -- that today’s smaller, better inerted electron beams deliver.
Best practice, safety in use
Central to RadTech Europe’s concerns is the raft of best practice and regulatory documents that guarantee the safety of radiation curing in all its applications. 2015 will see the continuation of the association’s active participation in the new review of the EC reference document on the best available techniques for surface treatment using organic solvents (BREF STS). The document, which is being evaluated by a large number of stakeholder organisations, specifies emission limits and other environmental permit requirements, and includes information on alternative technologies to lower VOC emissions – a key benefit of UV and EB curing technologies. The review process is expected to take approximately three years.
RadTech Europe is also involved in the working group applying for the extension of the exemption of mercury in “special purpose discharge lamps” under the RoHS directive on the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment – an arena which is of importance to UV mercury-vapour bulbs.
Food-safe UV-cured inks
Other areas where the association is making positive contributions include REACH and the German Printing Ink Ordinance, now in its fifth draft, which is currently at the core of existing European standards for the safety of printing inks in food packaging materials in terms of non-migration, low odour, and no taste transfer. 2014 saw RadTech Europe organise a dedicated seminar on this issue to great interest of the industry.
…and now in three dimensions
Radiation curing technologies may have been around for more than 70 years, but they are today very much central to the launch pad for a real 21st-century innovation: 3D printing or additive manufacturing. This process involves building three-dimensional objects/ products individually, in plastic, from a digital file. These creations may be medical devices, toys, custom jewellery, electronics, automotive components, and many other consumer and industrial products. But they all share one manufacturing feature: radiation curing.
A new industrial revolution?
The exceptional interest in the possibilities of 3D printing/additive manufacturing market that is currently being experienced has intensified interest in all aspects of UV/EB curing. RadTech Europe President David Helsby is in no doubt that the association’s 2015 agenda will include a strong and growing focus on this sector. ‘Additive manufacturing is going viral,’ he says, ‘and our members’ science, expertise, and experience are critical to turning what is currently an embryo technology into a new industrial revolution.’ www.radtech-europe.com