RadTech '94 illustrates why technology's boosters view it as 'green' solution
Orlando, Fla. -- In a coatings industry besieged by escalating environmental and regulatory pressures, the companies and people flying the radiation-cure banner appear to be the beneficiaries of an enviable position.
If a major challenge to your business is spreading the word about the environmental soundness of your products, that would appear to be an enviable position indeed.
From the talk heard at the recent RadTech '94 conference here, radiation curing of coatings and inks enjoys exactly that distinction, thanks to miniscule air-pollution emissions from application and cure.
A major challenge facing the industry, according to opinions voiced at the semi-annual technical conference, is explaining to government regulatory agencies just how "green" the technology is. By telling that story, the thinking goes, regulatory agencies will look to radiation curing as the standard-setter or, in EPA lingo, maximum achievable control technology.
The benefits of such a position, of course, could be very significant. Not many industries would pass up the chance to be considered the darling of environmental regulators and activists.
As this comprehensive, four-day event demonstrated, however, radiation curing faces more challenges than simply embellishing its image in the eyes of regulatory agencies. The technology remains relatively new, and there are plenty of kinks to work out.
At the top of the "to-do" list for the industry are the development of new raw materials and formulation of coatings and inks that expand the application possibilities. The ability to cure three-dimensional substrates remains an elusive objective, and cost continues to keep many potential users from taking the radiation-cure plunge.
And the technology's "green" status does not necessarily equate to "good for your health." Acrylates remain a key ingredient of the products, and at the very least are regarded as skin irritants. At worst, some acrylates are considered carcinogenic, although the jury appears to be out on that indictment.
RadTech '94, sponsored by RadTech International North America, featured a total of more than 120 technical papers that addressed all these issues -- and more. RadTech is an organization that enlists members from all facets of the technology -- raw material suppliers, coating and ink producers and end users -- and the conference's content reflects that broad-based mission.
This two-part report focuses primarily on radiation-cure technology from the coating and ink production standpoint, with attention also given to key application issues addressed at RadTech '94. Also reviewed are marketing trends discussed at the conference. The report, to conclude in the June 20 APCJ, is designed to provide …