Radiation curing is a term used to describe the process of using radiation, either UV light or electron beam radiation, to convert specifically made synthetic liquids into solids. This process is used to coat wood, plastic or metal. If your house has coated hardwood floors, they were probably coated using radiation curing.
A Green Alternative
The process of using quality photoinitiators to create the radiation needed for this process is a unique feature of radiation curing that has a leg up on other adhesive-creating processes. When using radiation to create the necessary chemical reaction, older processes like thermal radiation treatment combine the liquid with a solvent; the resulting combination creates volatile organic compounds that lead to air pollution. With coatings and adhesives, a huge part of the modern graphic design industry, turning to a system that is more environmentally responsible is important.
Understanding the Process
Unlike thermal treatment, UV and EB radiation curing uses light to initiate the chemical reactions necessary to create the coating or adhesive. This allows the components to combine together instead of needing a solvent. The components are placed under the radiation, which initiates a chemical reaction that creates the coating. The process essentially harnesses the physical energy of UV light and converts it to chemical energy.
Aside from being a greener alternative to other curing methods, radiation curing has many other benefits. Because the process uses light instead of heat, materials that cannot withstand high temperatures can be used. It also requires less space, and the compounds used in the process are relatively stable. Both of these allow for easy and safe storage and make setup a lot easier.
The main disadvantage of radiation curing is the cost; this process is much more expensive than thermal radiation. But like all developing green technologies, this is something that could change with time.