The annual RadTech Europe conference is an event for UV/EB technology professionals, bringing together the brightest minds from the industry. This year, amidst industry shifts, the event provided valuable insights into current challenges, innovations, and the road ahead. Perstorp representatives who attended the conference offer a recap of their observations.
Despite a temporary slump in the business climate, the energy curing industry remains resilient. There's a notable downturn in demand, especially in essential sectors like wood coatings for furniture, construction, and packaging. It's a challenge the entire value chain is struggling with.
However, the overarching sentiment is one of optimism about energy curing technology. The reasons: it's sustainable, boasts low VOC, requires minimal energy, and delivers superior performance. Even with this year's challenges, industry insiders project a promising growth rate of approximately 5% CAGR in the long-term for energy curing.
Innovation at the forefront
RadTech Europe 2023 shone a spotlight on the industry's innovative spirit. The conference addressed raw material alternatives that are both sustainable and high performing. Technological advancements also came up, especially in equipment like LED and EB technology. Notably, interest is increasing for UV powder technology, a low-temperature and energy-efficient alternative to traditional powder coatings, especially for applications on materials like MDF wood.
One of the segments seeing a lot of interest and development is UV cured 3D printing and the new process of hot lithography stands out. Hot lithography is a method for 3D printing enabling the processing of highly viscous resins at higher temperatures. This widens the selection of possible resins to use and makes it possible to produce tougher and more temperature-resistant objects.
The digitalization of our industry also touches energy curing. The conference showcased the potential of data-driven models and AI in streamlining and enhancing coating development processes.
Bridging Academia and Industry
RadTech Europe's core is undeniably technical. Yet, the integral role of academic institutions was evident. Universities showcased their contributions both in terms of participation and insightful presentations. An encouraging trend was the alignment of academic research with tangible industrial applications. The transition from research to real-world implementation appears to be getting more streamlined.
Perstorp in Action
Perstorp contributed to the conference with three presentations:
Vanessa Maurin, Innovation Project Manager, presented a "New diol to produce low viscous reactive urethane acrylates.’’ Her insights addressed a common challenge the industry faces – the high viscosity and reactivity of such resins.
Vanessa also discussed "Oxetane based IPN systems for challenging applications." She emphasized the value of Curalite™ in Cationic UV for metal coatings. The coil coating sector, currently seeking alternatives to conventional solvent-borne systems, was particularly interested in the potential of cationic energy curing. Vanessa also addressed how to use the oxetane benefits when formulating hybrid resins for 3D-printing.
David Engberg, Business Development Director Resins & Coatings, discussed the theme of "Using building blocks to meet requirements on regulatory and sustainability in radiation curing." David shared insights about how the industry can use alternative building blocks such as TMP alkoxylates to address the issue of the new classification of TMPTA. Increased regulatory pressure is a big concern in the industry as it is continuously limiting the toolbox of raw materials that can be used, hence there was great interest for Perstorp alternative raw materials.
RadTech Europe 2023 encapsulated the resilience, innovation, and adaptability of the UV/EB technology industry. The energy curing sector is undoubtedly ready for transformative growth, backed by sustainable solutions and collaborative efforts.