Understand UV Curing Better
by Niña Muñoz
Published: February 06, 2023
The use of UV technology has advanced the metal decoration industry in several ways. It has elevated product quality and increased process efficiency and productivity compared to the traditional curing method. The most notable improvement that UV inks have shown is product aesthetics. Colors are more vibrant, details are more emphasized and the product aesthetics is very well protected from print damage.
All these benefits come with the technological breakthrough of the use of UV light. However, these benefits and advantages can only be fully enjoyed if the UV curing process is at its optimal performance.
The challenge lies in being able to provide for the unique requirements of UV curing technology.
To make sure the UV curing process is running efficiently, one needs to monitor 2 parameters of the process:
The energy and the power.
The energy (Joules) is a measurement of the total number of photons that hit a certain surface of the substrate in the UV oven
The power (Watts) is how many photons hit that certain surface per second. Quite often, it is the power that gets the UV lacquer cured.
Maintenance requirements, therefore, include monitoring both UV energy and UV power levels to ensure they are high enough to cure the lacquer on the metal sheets properly. This means that when UV levels decrease, it should immediately be noticed and corrective action should be taken. It might be possible to increase the lamp current and the oven might still be able to fulfill its function without sacrificing product quality. Only when the lamps can no longer be adjusted should they be replaced as UV lamps are expensive. Early and unnecessary replacement is not desirable from either a financial or environmental point of view (only non-LED lamps contain mercury).
Not replacing the lamps when they should be is not an option either as uncured sheets can cause problems in the downstream processes or worse, product rejects and even customer complaints.
TOOL FOR PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE
The solution is to use a device that measures the UV levels to make sure that all curing parameters are correct, avoiding unnecessary problems and costs. A radiometer may be used to measure these UV levels. But to measure the UV levels in a curing oven without disrupting the production process, the device must be small enough to fit into the opening of most UV ovens and compact enough to be at the level closest to the substrate. While there are several kinds of radiometers presently available in the market, they usually fail in terms of size–too bulky to fit into small clearances and too expensive.
Innosen provides 3-pc canmakers worldwide with the perfect product that addresses these problems in the curing process. The IS310 UV Logger is a low-cost radiometer that is the size of a credit card, and small enough to fit even the smallest clearances.
The IS310 UV Logger measures the UV Energy (J/cm2) and the UV power (W/cm2) received by a metal sheet when passed through a UV curing oven. It then shows the measured values on an LED Display. It is thin enough to fit clearances as small as 6mm. The IS310 has a compact design that can withstand radiation as normally found in a curing oven.
In addition, the IS310 UV Logger can determine if UV levels have decreased (or deteriorated) by comparing the present reading to a user-stored reference value and displaying a percentage difference. The UV Logger can monitor and display data of individual lamps. It can also store these values for multiple lines.
This enables the user to determine the trend towards low UV levels and can be used to improve overall process quality and efficiency. The IS310 is capable of saving the last oven reading, for data downloading on a computer.
For more information about the IS310 UV Logger, check out the Innosen website at www.innosen .com or contact Innosen directly using any of the contact details below.
UV Logger IS310
A low-cost credit card-sized device designed to measure and monitor the UV curing process.
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