EB FLEXO TECHNOLOGY
WHAT IS ELECTRON BEAM (EB) CURING?
EB technology is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry to dry medicines and in the sterilization of milk and medical instruments. EB is a perfectly safe technology already used by the litho printing industry since the 1960s.
In EB curing, a curtain of accelerated electrons is emitted towards the web in an evacuated chamber (Fig. 4). When the energized electrons hit ink or coating, the curing process happens instantaneously, without the need for a photoinitiator (PI).
The effectively instantaneous cure gives the printer the ability to post-process or ship immediately as the stock comes off the press, shortening the time to market. This ability to respond quickly and NOT have lag time and inventory problems are additional financial and process management advantages of EB curing.
EB inks do not have the disadvantage of requiring any photoinitiator, such as those needed in UV printing which also requires several degrees of post curing.
The EB process is conducted under an inert nitrogen blanket. The air that we breathe contains 78% nitrogen (Fig. 5), but is not pure enough as the oxygen in the air inhibits the curing process and results in the generation of ozone (Fig. 6).
ADVANTAGES OF EB CURING:
Very sharp, high-quality print
Sustainable green process
EB curing is on or off – fully cured or not at all, vs. UV where degrees of
curing are seen
Unlike UV curing, EB ink colour or ink film thickness does not affect the
Can be used wide variety of paper, board and film & foil substrates
Because they are cured into a polymeric film, EB inks have excellent
abrasion and chemical resistance properties
- The curing process is at ambient temperatures and will not damage temperature-sensitive stocks
No migration potential for photoinitiator
Solvent free, non-explosive industrial environment, with corresponding
savings in insurance costs and risk
Absence of fan blowers results in low noise pressure in the workshop
Several options to replace lamination-steps with EB varnishes applied in
Print quality matches UV Flexo with high lineatures and clean plates
- Competitive market opportunities towards traditional gravure and offset markets