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Technodigm Innovation
August 15, 2023

5 Tips on Tackling Common Hurdles in UV LED Curing Applications

UV LED curing equipment are a cost-effective and efficient way to cure UV epoxies and adhesives for many applications. However, a few common challenges may arise when using this technology. This blog post will explore expert tips on overcoming these hurdles to maximise UV LED curing applications advantages. Learn more about addressing common challenges in UV LED curing applications.

How Does UV LED Curing Work?

UV LED curing systems uses UV light to quickly cure or harden materials like adhesives, inks, and coatings. When UV light directs onto the material, it initiates a chemical reaction called photo-polymerisation. Consequently, it causes the molecules to link together and solidify. Unlike traditional curing methods like heat or moisture that requires lengthy time, UV curing is fast, usually in seconds. Ultimately, it offers several advantages, like faster UPH, reduced energy consumption, and the ability to cure heat-sensitive materials.

What Are The Advantages of Using UV LED Curing?

UV LED curing is when manufacturers use ultraviolet light to harden or dry material quickly. This process replaces traditional methods involving high heat or chemicals, which are harmful to the environment and can be slow. Here are some advantages of using UV LED curing:

  • Energy-efficient: This curing type requires less energy than other methods, lowering utility costs by as much as 50% and thus saving money in the long run.
  • Fast curing: Latest UV LED equipment can be very efficient and high power. This means faster curing thus saving time and increases productivity. Parts can be moved or processed right after curing, making it ideal for high-volume manufacturing.
  • Versatile: UV LED curing equipment can be moved and or configured easily to suit the needs of different manufacturing line requirements or layout. It can be used with conveyors, manual standalone chambers or in-line with other equipment.
  • Precise and consistent: UV LED curing provides uniform and consistent results. It can be controlled with very low degradation of the UV intensity over a long period of time. This gives assurance to consistency of quality. 

Common Challenges in UV LED Curing Applications

Like any other technology, UV LED curing also has some challenges. However, addressing them is critical to optimising the benefits of this innovative technology. Some of the common hurdles in UV LED curing applications are:

Incomplete curing

Improperly cured epoxies or adhesives can reduce performance and cause quality issues. Achieving a complete cure requires balancing factors such as UV light intensity, duration, wavelength, and material properties like thickness and viscosity.

Heat generation

UV LEDs does produce heat especially for high powered UV LEDs.  Thus it is essential to balance intensity and curing time for heat sensitive applications.  How the UV LED curing equipment is built does helps to mitigate the heat effect in some applications.

Substrate interference

Some substrate absorb or reflect UV light, making it challenging to achieve proper curing. For example a dark coloured substrate will likely requires a longer or higher intensity to cure than a light coloured substrate.

Limited wavelength options

UV LEDs emit light in a narrower spectrum than traditional lamps. That way, choosing the correct wavelength for each application is crucial. Typically, this requires understanding the absorption properties of the substrate and the requirements of the UV curable epoxies or adhesives.

Compatibility issues

UV LED curing may not be compatible with certain epoxies and adhesives due to the nature of the photo initiators or the chemical composition of the epoxies. It is essential to evaluate the compatibility of UV LED curing with materials and techniques before implementing it.

How to Address Challenges in UV LED Curing Applications

UV LED curing applications can offer numerous benefits, including fast curing times, energy efficiency, and reduced maintenance costs. However, like any technology, challenges can arise during implementation and operation. Fortunately, several strategies can help address these challenges and ensure optimal performance.

Proper equipment selection

One common challenge is selecting the right equipment for the specific application. Choosing UV LED curing systems that are compatible with the cured materials and can deliver the required intensity and wavelength is crucial. Working closely with manufacturers or experts in the field can help ensure the best choice of equipment for the application.

Understanding the curing process

A thorough understanding of the curing process is essential for addressing challenges effectively. Usually, this includes understanding the optimal intensity, exposure time, and distance between the UV LED source and the cured material. Conducting experiments and testing different variables can help optimise the curing process for the specific application.

Proper maintenance

Regular maintenance and calibration of UV LED curing systems are necessary to maintain efficiency and effectiveness. Some methods include standard cleaning and checking the UV output periodically.  Following the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and use can help prevent potential issues and ensure consistent performance.

Monitoring and quality control

A robust monitoring and quality control system can help identify any challenges or deviations from desired curing results. This can involve using UV intensity meters to measure the output of the UV LED system, inspecting cured parts for any defects or inconsistencies, and implementing corrective measures as needed.

Final Thoughts

Overall, UV LED curing technology has revolutionised how industries approach curing. Its significant benefits include reduced energy consumption, enhanced production efficiency, and superior product quality. However, like any technology, common challenges need to be addressed.

From limited cure depth to substrate compatibility issues, working with companies like TechnoDigm can overcome these hurdles. Thanks to the company’s experience and innovative solutions, businesses can take their operations to the next level. The future of curing is undoubtedly bright with UV LED technology at the helm. Meanwhile, you can also check out our other UV products such as UV curing solutions and UV intensity measurement systems