UV Technology

For over 25 years we’ve been contributing to technological innovation in the UV photopolymerisation field

The colour purple...

In a historical context purple is considered a noble, sacred and magical colour. Purple is a combination of two opposites: red and blue, the first a warm colour, the second cold.

But the ground-breaking discovery came when it was found that light, which we see as white, is actually made up of a range of colours produced by the various frequencies of electromagnetic radiation; the last high-frequency colour with the shortest wavelength is purple. Or rather, ultraviolet.

Scientists studying the sun discovered ultraviolet light, also called UV, invisible to the naked eye. Thanks to this, as a result of continuous new findings and the relevant applications, we were eventually able to reproduce UV light artificially in a laboratory and improve our living conditions.

In nature we’ve grown accustomed to protecting ourselves from the ultraviolet light produced by the sun, the part that’s not filtered by the ozone layer in the atmosphere.

Artificial sources of ultraviolet light

 

A few decades ago, science and technology came up with artificial sources that produced ultraviolet light such as UV lamps, commonly used in the disinfection of water, air, food, and to sterilise surgical instruments. UV radiation is a germicide used in sterilisation to prevent microorganisms harmful to man from reproducing.

In more recent times, ultraviolet light has been used in the laboratory with the invention of electromedical devices used to study cells, in forensic medicine to search for clues, stains that would otherwise be invisible; to reveal biological traces and DNA profiles.

UV Technology

Cross industry innovation

In the industrial field on the other hand, UV technology is an excellent example of cross industry innovation, and it’s used to “dry” coatings, paints, inks and adhesives.

In particular, ultraviolet light is widely used in the graphic arts, on wood and with fibre optics for the photopolymerisation of chemical products.

It’s furthermore commonly used in sectors such as:

  • automotive,
  • medical,
  • consumer electronics,
  • renewable energy, etc.

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In automotive

3D printing

More recently one might mention the invention of 3D printers. In the automotive sector, for example, car manufacturers can print plastic parts; and send models to test prototype parts for cars from one side of the globe to the other using 3D printers utilizing ultraviolet lamps to quickly dry the printed materials.

Our approach

Imagination, creativity, curiosity

Qurtech, thanks to the imagination, creativity and curiosity of the women and men who work there, has been contributing to the technological innovation of UV photopolymerisation for years.

This technology offers some major advantages such as very fast drying, often resulting in a higher quality finished product, also in aesthetic terms; energy efficiency, reduced production line floorspace, very low or zero VOC emissions.

Technologies which reduce both harmful emissions and production line floorspace.

UV photopolymerisation: ecological, efficient, fast

Uphotopolymerisation is a fast-drying curing process used for paints, inks and adhesives: a powerful ultraviolet lamp triggers a photochemical reaction that makes the transition from the liquid to the solid state instantaneously.

UV curing technology, applied to industrial processes, has reduced production times and costs. In fact, compared to previous decades, the chemistry is dried without using big gas or oil-fired ovens that entail high production costs.

It is important to emphasise that, thanks to photopolymerisation, much smaller drying ovens can now be used, revolutionising production floorspace by adopting more compact production lines; this also reduces production costs and products are more resistant and of a higher quality. Result: a more competitive company.

The benefits of this technology are clear:

  • Reliability
  • The stability of the photopolymerisation process

Furthermore, the part produced using the photopolymerisation process is more resistant and of a higher quality, because in its liquid form it is exposed for less time to the impurities in the workplace. In terms of results this means a significant reduction in both the number of rejects and flaws, as well as a better quality finish.

It is quite obvious that it is precisely the drying speed of UV curing that makes it extremely versatile for printing, painting, decoration and assembly.

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The curing process

The UV curing process consists of the use of an UV lamp whose emissions are concentrated on a substrate to which a liquid formulation containing the photoinitiator has been applied.

From the UV light activating the photoinitiators, radicals are generated that interact with the chemistry, producing the crosslinking effect of the formulation thus from liquid becoming solid

The liquid formulation

The liquid formulation applied to the substrate mostly consists of monomers (compounds with a low molecular weight) that also act as a thinner, to which oligomers (polymers with a high and medium molecular weight) are added and whose peculiar properties determine the behaviour of the final compound (hardness, chemical resistance, etc.).

In the liquid formulation it is the photoinitiator that triggers the curing process of the polymeric matrix; in fact it starts the polymerization and the cross-linking process, after having interacted with an adequate UV light source. It is the UV light itself that activates the photoinitiator thus generating radicals that trigger the cross-linking process interacting with the unsaturated double bonds of the UV formulation.

The curing process

There are four phases in the curing process:

  • The production of the radicals or reactive species;
  • Initiation of polymerisation;
  • Chain propagation / transfer;
  • Termination.

The curing process

The UV curing process consists of the use of an UV lamp whose emissions are concentrated on a substrate to which a liquid formulation containing the photoinitiator has been applied.

From the UV light activating the photoinitiators, radicals are generated that interact with the chemistry, producing the crosslinking effect of the formulation thus from liquid becoming solid

The liquid formulation

The liquid formulation applied to the substrate mostly consists of monomers (compounds with a low molecular weight) that also act as a thinner, to which oligomers (polymers with a high and medium molecular weight) are added and whose peculiar properties determine the behaviour of the final compound (hardness, chemical resistance, etc.).

In the liquid formulation it is the photoinitiator that triggers the curing process of the polymeric matrix; in fact it starts the polymerization and the cross-linking process, after having interacted with an adequate UV light source. It is the UV light itself that activates the photoinitiator thus generating radicals that trigger the cross-linking process interacting with the unsaturated double bonds of the UV formulation.

The curing process

There are four phases in the curing process:

  • The production of the radicals or reactive species;
  • Initiation of polymerisation;
  • Chain propagation / transfer;
  • Termination.

Photoinitiators

There are two types: cationic and radical.

The second can be divided into a further two categories:

  • TYPE1 = photoinitiators that undergo a bond break, regardless of the viscosity of the mixture they’re in.
  • TYPE2 = photoinitiators that need a synergistic help to produce radicals, influenced by the viscosity of the mixture in which they are in (the higher the viscosity, the more difficult it is to find the proton donor species).

Obviously both types must have specific properties:

Correct absorption

Correct absorption is very important for both types

Efficient radicalic breaks

Efficient radical breaks to generate effective initial species with resins and monomers they come into contact with

Solubility and stability

Solubility and stability

Non-toxic

They must not be toxic

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