There were sessions and panel discussions on chemistries, equipment and markets, with UV inkjet, UV LED, EB packaging, 3D printing and automotive among the topic of interest. There were also end users on hand to give their perspective on how UV and EB curing fit their needs, including presenters from Ford Motor Company, Pepsi-Co.
RadTech leaders and exhibitors said they felt the show was a success. RadTech president Lisa Fine of Joules Angstrom U.V. Printing Inks said there was a lot of energy at the show.
“We have a very deep set of people, talks and interactions and lots of energy,” Fine observed. “One of the elements bringing this is our RadLaunch projects. The sessions have been really well attended, and the theater where we held our panel discussions has been standing room only. There was so much going on.”
Mickey Fortune of RadTech reported that attendance was similar to RadTech 2016. “Our attendance is the same at RadTech 2016, which is good considering that the FTA, MPE and SVC are running right now,” Fortune added. “What we are hearing from attendees is that this is probably the best RadTech conference they’ve been to and that there are so many informative sessions that people are having a hard time deciding where to go.”
Exhibitors also reported that they found the show to be good.
“There has been a lot of good interest at our booth and during our presentations,” said Gina Gonzalez, marcom manager for Heraeus. “We feel we have developed some good new partnerships.”
“It’s been a good flow for us, with a nice broad array of customers from different industries,” said Ronald Levitt, director of sales, Americas for Shamrock Technologies. “We have some good opportunities from this show.”
“The show went really well for us,” added Timothy Williams, digital marketing manager for Sartomer. “We had many engaging conversations, and we introduced 19 new products and gave eight presentations.”
One area of interest was UV inkjet, which was the focus of a panel discussion featuring Tom Molamphy of Siegwerk, Alan Hudd of Alchemie Technology Ltd, Josh Hope of Mimaki USA, and Josh Samuel of EFI.
“Most of our customers are doing direct-to-object, prototyping and proofing,” Hope said. “UV has the flexibility to cover a lot of different substrates. On the 3D side, we use UV curing to fuse liquid to solid. We work with our customers to determine the right ink for their application. The challenge is finding the right material to meet the need. Optically clear cured inks are a concern as you do get yellowing from photoinitiators.”
“We went into UV because it is a great technology, but there is a push towards aqueous vs. UV in the industrial market,” Samuel observed. “We are developing hybrid systems combining UV and aqueous technologies. Long runs are a challenge for UV industrial inkjet. UV is ideal for shorter runs, which is where the world is heading. If you want to displace analog, you have to reduce cost, and there is a limit to where you can get to.”
Molamphy said that packaging is potentially a good market for inkjet printing. “There is no universal formulation. We basically formulate for specific applications,” he added. “The question is whether water-based inkjet is better for some packaging applications, such as porous substrates like corrugated. Décor is an interesting market. There are long established processes and companies that have invested in these processes. We have to show what inkjet can do.”
Hudd said that industrial applications and UV go very well together. “It is ideal for non-porous substrates, and you get superb reliability with piezo printheads,” Hudd continued. “We are reaching the tipping point.”
RadTech 2018 featured two sessions on the subject of Printing + Packaging, with industry experts offering their insights in this field. For example, Jennifer Heathcote of Phoseon noted that there is growing interest in UV LED for flexo printing.
“The Swiss Ordinance limits the products that you can use and Nestle further adds products that you can’t use,” said James Goodrich of Miwon North America. “Products listed on the Swiss Ordinance can be further excluded from Nestle formulations, and you are trying to make a formulation with limited products. Toluene was added to Prop 65 in 1991, and there is more sensitivity from packaging producers and brand owners. It is now a member of the solvent exclusion list form Nestle.”
In discussing the need for testing methods, Natasha Banke of INX International Ink Co. noted that BPA is widely debated with little harmonized agreement. “EFSA says BPA poses no health risk to consumers,” said Banke. “On the other hand, the Swiss Ordinance says BPA can’t be used in polycarbonate bottle, but it is not banned from food contact material. Nestle says that BPA must not be used. Ultimately, consumers care, which is why we care.”
Chris Seubert of Ford Motor Co., PPG’s David Fenn and Jim Konen of UPS discussed automotive coatings.
“There is a large amount of change coming in the automotive and the paint and coatings industry,” Fenn said. “I firmly believe there are opportunities, and from a radcure point of view, interiors infrastructure may be great opportunities. Probably the clearest opportunity UV in for autonomous vehicles is in lenses.”
“Times are changing, and this is going to change the way vehicles are built,” Seubert added. “There are always opportunities. Ride-sharing of autonomous vehicles will impact wear resistance of interiors. Low-temperature curing is coming down the line. UV clearcoats are a case of finding the use case. On the refinish side, time is king, so UV is ideal there.”
Konen discussed the potential for 3D printing.
“3D printing is a great tool – now you can have a component in your hand and determine fit and function,” said Konen. “As the end user, 3D is great for prototyping and I know they are working on building components. The industry is ready for that.”
The use of EB in packaging, notably in tobacco packaging in China, was the subject of another panel session, which included Wang Ke, China Tobacco Zhejiang Industrial Co., Ltd.; Todd Fayne, Pepsico; Vincent Luo, CGN Dasheng Electron Accelerator Technology Co. Ltd.; Im Rangwalla, ESI Vincent LUO, CGN Dasheng Electron Accelerator Technology Co. Ltd.; and Kelly Williams, Futamura.
Luo discussed the special equipment designed by China Tobacco Zhejiang Industrial Co. and the role that EB gravure and EB offset are playing for them.
“EB has no photoinitiators and is VOC free,” Luo said. “You can modify existing lines, using water-based inks replace solvent-based and EB curable OPV to replace UV OPV. This meets all printing and quality requirements, provides a drastic improvement in the working environment, and reduces VOCs to minimal levels.”
“The cost is always an issue, but total cost can be saving,” Luo added. “For example, with EB you can save a laminating layer. The cost of EB has to be overcome, including equipment, process costs and inks. China Tobacco applies very high standards for packaging, and regulations are a driving force to accelerate the use of EB.”
“The capital is expensive but the capital of any new press is as well,” said Fayne. “We focus on total cost solutions, and over the length of the equipment’s lifetime, the savings on film, energy costs reduced solvent and regulatory equipment, those issues start going away. We are going for low hanging fruit, from double-layer lamination down to a single layer. It may change the way we put together our packages.”
“We have done a lot of development in reducing the cost of EB, but if you look at the total cost, EB has always turned out to be an affordable approach,” Rangwalla pointed out. “There are several commercial applications on all types of films. There has been considerable penetration of EB in flexible packaging, but UV and EB are still the tip of the iceberg in flexible packaging.”
Among the Day 3 sessions were EHS, an update on environmental, health and safety regulations. RadTech’s Rita Loof offered her thoughts on future trends. “VOC limits are going down, and regulators will need new test methods to measure very low VC levels,” Loof pointed out. “UV/EB can offer end users less regulatory burdens and help the industry stay in compliance. Increased production and VOC reduction can go hand-in-hand.”
Lynn Bergeson of Bergeson & Campbell discussed the 2016 changes in TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) of 2016, and how the law hasn’t quite worked the way it was expected.
“TSCA changed a lot in 2016,” Bergeson said. “We did not see that Section 5 would be a train wreck. Now it is exceedingly unpredictable. The centralizing concept is an unreasonable risk. What has changed is that the risk does not include any cost/benefit analysis. It does include a new concept, conditions for use. The key is what does that mean? EPA is struggling with that. Potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulations, another new term, also now includes workers.”
Douglas Copen of Nestlé USA closed the EHS session. He noted that Nestlé spends $8 billion a year on packaging materials.
“Nestle is responsible for the safety and compliance of its packaging,” Copen reported. “In 2005 we had the ITX crisis, which cost us hundreds of millions of dollars in product and the countless amount in terms of brand respect. We were blindsided when TetraPak used ITX and it migrated into baby formula.”
He noted that the public is worried about chemicals in food packaging from endocrine disruptors and BPA to phthalates, PFAS and mineral oils, among others.
“Nestle must go beyond regulatory requirements to address consumers’ concerns,” Copen added. “We do not use in Bisphenol A in our packaging, including ink formulations, as our consumers don’t want it. An ink formulator must only use substances listed in the Swiss Ordinance, and cannot use substances listed on the Nestle Guidance Note.”