Arc UV curing systems have many components that require frequent maintenance including bulbs, shutters, reflectors, ballasts, and cooling and exhaust fans. It’s recommended to clean lamps, reflectors and shutters every 500 operating hours. And since most wide web converting lines use longer arc lamps, there’s also the need to rotate lamps once a week to avoid bending or bowing of the lamp. This lamp bowing, if not addressed, shortens the operating life and may affect reliability of the curing process.It’s also recommended to change reflectors with every lamp change.
There’s also maintenance of the cooling and exhaust fans and filter changes.
All this maintenance time results in downtime. If your converting production process currently uses arc lamps for UV curing, you can gather actual maintenance data to compare to a UV LED system for new process development consideration.
UV LED system maintenance is significantly less since there is no shutter, reflector, or ballast, and essentially maintenance-free cooling fans.
The quartz emission window, the working end of the UV LEDs next to the substrate, does require cleaning anywhere from once a week for dirty environments to every 4 weeks for clean environments. This can typically be done without removing the unit. Cooling air filters should be cleaned and reused or replaced as needed. But in most cases, this is a quick procedure because it doesn’t require removing the units from the production line, and filters need cleaning less often than arc lamp systems because the cooling air volume is so much less.
Most commercial production lines using UV LED systems simply integrate their maintenance into the routine cleaning and service of other equipment on the converting line so that it doesn’t cause any significant additional downtime.