RadTech Europe 2017 – Focus on UV / EB curing
CZECH REBUPLIC • About 400 participants joined the event RadTech Europe 2017. “UV/EB: best in class” was the theme of this year’s Europe conference and exhibition, which took place from 17 to 19 October in Prague.
Conference keynote: enlightening, entertaining
Dawn Skinner, conference chairman, of Heraeus Noblelight (GB), then welcomed keynote speaker Gordon Crichton (GB) of the Institut du Management de l’Achat International, whose role was to identify the future challenges for the industry because, he said, “the way companies are working with their suppliers is dramatically changing”. In the past, the focus of company buyers was on price, but today there is a new centre of interest: growth, “and the preferred customer, as opposed to the preferred supplier, is the key to achieving the goal.”
Suppliers, therefore, must feel comfortable and at ease in their relationships with the brand owners, especially FMCG companies, and not the victims of the old-established three-point agenda – ‘price, price, price’. Today, apparently, brands are all about innovation and speed to market but, Mr Crichton underlined, ‘75% of so-called innovation is NOT – it’s simply product change’. In a presentation he emphasised the importance of people and ideas in driving successful and growing business in any industry – including UV/EB curing.
The North American market
A detailed report on the market perspective on radiation curing in North America was presented by David Harbourne of Harbourne Consulting Services (US), focussing specifically on the developments in UV LED chemistry, equipment, and formulations, as well as relevant regulations. Given the progress, he noted that UV LED is at or beyond the tipping point for widespread adoption.
The European market
Then it was the run of Nick Gruber of BASF (DE) to provide a similar analysis of the industry in Europe which, he said, is expected to grow to 2021 across all its markets at 3.5%, with UV and EB growth outpacing GDP by 2-3% for the last five years. He identified trends in both the coatings and printing and packaging arenas, and highlighted growth drivers, which today are led by the developing conversion technologies – including digital inkjet and 3D printing. These are creating new market segments, including cosmetics, optical materials, and coatings on plant seeds. Healthy organic growth in established market segments such as parquet, laminate and PVC flooring, and electronics will, he said, continue.
The association’s agenda
Mark Macaré, Secretary-General of RadTech Europe, underlined the importance of the wide-ranging “mixture” of the association’s membership, spanning academics, technical specialists at all levels of the value chain, and representatives from the established and developing end-use markets. He noted that all these aspects of the membership were physically represented, both at the conference and the exhibition, and he urged all present to promote a continuation of the lively nature of this event by attracting even more newcomers to benefit from its mixture of technical, academic, and market-oriented content.
The RadTech Europe Awards Ceremony concluded the plenary conference session. David Helsby presented the coveted RTE Advanced Development Award to Javier Portillo Casado (DE) from Fraunhofer FED, Dresden, for his innovative and outstanding work on low-energy electron beam irradiation of liquids for medical applications. On behalf of the conference programme committee, Dawn Skinner presented the Paul Dufour Award for the best paper given at the conference to Judith Radebner (AT), Graz University, for her presentation on germanium-based photoinitiators for free-radical polymerisation.
The RadTech Europe poster competition provides university students with the opportunity to share their radiation curing research with conference delegates in live presentations at the Business Information Theatre situated in the exhibition area. This year’s worthy winner was Yazgan Mete (AT) from the Technische Universität Wien for her work on NIR-initiated photopolymerization for lithography-based ceramic manufacturing.
Parallel conference sessions
Then it was time for about ten subject-specific parallel sessions, each supported by multiple papers, supported by academic institutions as well as chemical, raw material, and end-user companies across the applications spectrum. Session topics ranged from advances in photopolymerisation; developments in printing and 3D printing; health and safety legislation, including REACH and RoHS; UV LED equipment and measurement and formulations; developments in photoinitiators; coatings innovations; and new materials and end-use applications.
The event was sponsored by the industry including gold sponsors Allnex, BASF, BCH, IGM Resins, Lambson, Nagase, Rahn, Sartomer, and Siltech, and Silver Sponsors BYK, Covestro, EIT, Heraeus, Nedap, Nippon Gohsei, Nissan Chemical Industries, and Synthos.
RadTech Europe (RTE), founded in 1988 in Basel (Switzerland) and headquartered in The Hague (The Netherlands), is the European industry association that promotes the development, use and benefits of UV/EB curing technology for inks, coatings and adhesives.