LED UV vs. UV lamp

Industrial curing technologies compared

Tried and tested technology or the technology of the future

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have obtained a considerable market share in ordinary lighting technology. Although the use of LED technology requires a greater investment, this is far outweighed by its benefits – essentially energy savings and a long service life. There is also great interest in LED technology in the sphere of radiation curing. In the course of well over 40 years, the UV lamp with its broad spectrum has become established in a great many spheres of application. The narrow LED spectrum means that these applications cannot be transferred 1:1. LED UV technology works in the spectral range between 365 nm and 405 nm. UV lamps, on the other hand, cure in a wavelength range up to 450 nm.

UV lamps and LEDs in comparison

In addition to the requirements on UV lamp or LED systems, there are technical differences. The most important features of each technology for industrial curing are outlined below.

More about UV lamp systems

More about LED UV systems

Key benefits of LED

  • Zone circuits
  • Clocking
  • Compact design
  • Low penetration of heat into the substrate
  • No ozone
  • No mercury
  • Energy-saving potential
  • Long service life
  • Ready to use as soon as switched on
  • Either water cooling OR air cooling

Tried benefits of the UV lamp

  • Established technology
  • Broad lamp spectrum
  • High energy input
  • Broad availability of the chemistry
  • Wide range of finishing options
  • Low investment costs
  • Lamps and reflectors easy to replace
  • Spectrum easy to change by means of lamp doping
  • Passive water cooling via heat exchanger

Meeting requirements increases prospects for success

The task of radiation curing is clearly defined. At the end of the process chain there is a product which has to meet the customer’s requirements in terms of curing. In this process, both an LED and a UV lamp may be useful tools in satisfying these requirements with maximum efficiency. There is therefore no point in considering simply the electrical load of both systems.

Typical requirement profiles for successful integration are defined by the following factors:

  • shape
  • weight
  • cooling medium
  • chemistry
  • energy requirement
  • product handling
  • product properties
  • production speed

The above-mentioned requirements suggest the use of light-emitting diodes in the inkjet process or for adhesive applications, for example. Another common example for the use of LED systems is commercial printing. Product properties and production speed have a high priority here.

UV lamp or LEDs? Experience and specialist knowledge are required to select the right light source for a specific curing application.

In some cases, tests are also helpful to provide information about the suitability of an intended solution for a particular technical case.