Although radiation curable products account for a small portion of the overall coatings market as a result of the high costs associated with raw materials and equipment, they are used in a variety of segments including wood coatings, graphic arts and electronic applications. Because of their high cost, radiation curable products tend to be adopted in specific applications only where they exhibit proven advantages over conventional solventborne or waterborne coatings. According to research firm IHS, radiation curable coatings comprise two percent of the total industrial coatings market. Despite this relatively modest number, the firm identified a number of sectors driving growth.
The top three sectors for growth for radiation-curable coatings are:
• Waterborne UV coating systems as replacements for solventborne systems.
• Portable curing systems, which allow the application of radiation-curable coatings at job sites, especially wood and concrete floor refinishing.
• Formulations cured by exposure to UV LED curing lamps, which are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than conventional mercury lamps.
Potential new markets include:
• Stereolithography, a process in which three-dimensional parts are produced from photosensitive resins.
• Printed electronics, which include any electrical device that is manufactured by printing. UV curable inks and coatings are being developed that have the potential for widescale use in portable photovoltaics, electroluminescent displays, transdermal patches and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs).
• Renewable raw materials, such as epoxy acrylates made from soybean oil or polyester acrylates made from dimerized fatty acids obtained from soybean or tall oils.