For many years, only medium or high pressure UVA (365nm) curing was available to cure free radical UV inks. In the last few years, however, low pressure UVC (254nm) curing has been increasingly used to cure “cationic” based UV inks, coatings, lacquers, and resins.
Since low pressure lamps can operate with much less power than medium or high pressure lamps, they are perfect for applications that require dimming [40%, 60% or 80% of full power]. Both low pressure mercury lamps and amalgam lamps produce UVC (254nm); however, there is a growing trend for using amalgam lamps due to their speed and efficiency in the drying of cationic based UV inks, coatings and resins.
Before amalgam lamps, low pressure UV curing lamps produced outputs only up to 150 watts. Using more current would cause the lamp to overheat, lose mercury vapor pressure and the result was a severe drop-off in output. An amalgam lamp can produce an output of 200 to 1000 watts, one-third of which is usable UVC (254nm) energy. Amalgam lamps offer the ability to downsize the system while maintaining maximum speed and efficiency for UV curing.
Of course, low pressure amalgam lamp UVC (254nm) curing is not the best technology for every UV ink curing application. But, if your application performance properties match up with the chart criteria below, then it is right for you!
|Medium or High Pressure
Traditional Free Radical
UVA (365nm) Ink Curing
|Low Pressure Amalgam
UVC (254nm) Ink Curing
|Cure Energy Required||High||Low|
Moreover, low pressure UVC (254nm) curing systems produce no hazardous byproducts and have a lower operating cost than free radical UVA (365nm) curing and heat-based curing systems.
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