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Operator Training Day at Edale headquarters

BPIF Operators Training Day

An initiative being undertaken to help label printers improve their productivity was held in March of this year.  Hosted by press manufacturer, Edale, the key speakers were from Alpha-Cure, Fujifilm, and GEW.

Welcoming delegates to the Operator Training Day at Edale’s headquarters in Hampshire (UK), the Chairman of BPIF Labels, John Bambery, stressed the need for the industry to take training and education more seriously to ensure that the industry continued to respond to changing market demand in the most efficient way.  The day’s tutorial, which focused on UV curing technology, is one of three organised by the BPIF this year, and is open all to label and narrow web converters.

Victoria Atherstone, Commercial Director of Alpha-Cure, began proceedings by explaining the technology behind UV lamp design and manufacture.  The company, which has been in business since 1996, now produces almost 150,000 lamps each year, which it sells in 136 countries around the World.  By explaining the various components that make up a UV lamp, from the caps, wires and electrodes, which act as connectors, to the heat reflective material, noble gas (Argon or Xenon), Mercury halides and fused Quartz that are part of the lamp body, Atherstone highlighted how each played a key role in the UV process, and how each was dependent on the others.

“For example,” she said, “we use fused Quartz for the lamps because it melts at three times the temperature of glass and permits up to 95% UV transparency.  For the same reason, we use Tungsten electrodes, which operate at the highest melting point of any metal, have good thermal conductivity, and a low thermal expansion coefficient, and we use Molybdenum for the lamp seal because its performance characteristics closely matches that of Quartz and prevents cracking, while being a good electrical conductor with a high resistance to corrosion.”  If the science was lost on some of the audience, the effects of faulty components and misuse were not, as samples of lamps where things had ‘gone wrong’ were handed round for all to see.

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UV curing is not a drying process, as understood by infra red heat or other types where moisture is forcefully removed from the inks, varnishes and adhesives leaving a dry layer on the substrate.  UV is a photo-initiated process, which uses light of different wavelengths to instantly cure the wet ink or varnish.  Measured in nanometres (nm), different substances respond to different wavelengths.  Typically, labels and other printed packaging responds to UV-A in the 315-370 nm range, while heavier weights of ink (screen) and certain substrates respond to UV-A in the 370 – 400 nm range.

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Nick Coombes
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