Novel Technology of Electron Beam Curing in Vacuum

Mikhail Laksin, IdeOn LLC

Abstract: The idea of applying and curing functional coatings using Electron Beam in vacuum has been explored for many years with limited commercial success. Significant practical benefits of applying very thin ( less that one micron thick) EB curable coatings directly on vacuum-metalized plastics have been seriously undermined by difficulties with coating application technique, which employs spraying of low viscosity radiation curable liquid blends. Such blends usually have limited stability in vacuum. These problems have been resolved by introducing Flexographic printing/coating method inside of the vacuum metallization chamber and optimizing coating chemistry for enhanced stability in vacuum. The new process allows application of equally low film thickness without traditionally excessive loss and polymerization of the sprayed coating inside of the vacuum chamber. This new process also offers enhanced degree and speed of crosslinking by taking advantage of Plasma and Ultra Violet energy, in addition to vacuum generated EB irradiation. Such films demonstrate a range of improved performance attributes; the protective coating enhances moisture and gas barrier properties, reduces corrosion, increases lamination bonds and offers low migration, under threshold of FDA regulations. This paper discusses benefits of the new technology that make application of these coatings a viable option desirable in a broad range of market segments utilizing vacuum metalized plastics.