Is Your UV Curing System Ready for Summer?

EIGHT Maintenance Tips to Keep Your UV curing system Running Smooth all summer

With summer fast approaching, it’s time to give your UV curing system a spring cleaning to help reduce pesky heat issues before they arise. Just like you might do a spring cleaning at home to prepare for the warmer weather, it’s a good idea to give your UV curing system a similar tune-up.

This blog will discuss the checks and precautions that apply to just about any UV system you use.

1. Make sure you have changed the filters on your air handlers to get the most air that the air handling systems can provide for maximum cooling. This is extremely important because while lower air pressure or exhaust air may work fine when the air is cooler, they may start causing things to get really hot in the dog days of summer.

2. After changing the filters, take an air pressure reading on the UV systems. If your system is still lower than when it was new, you may need to take additional steps like checking for duct leaks or cleaning ducts and blowers to try and get the air pressure back up to “like new” standards.

3. Pay close attention to lamps and bulbs. By now, you already know that keeping bulbs and reflectors clean is essential for UV output, but it’s also important for heat. Dirty bulbs run hotter. Dirty reflectors cause the irradiator to run a little hotter because the light energy is not reflected properly out of the unit. Clean optics not only keep our process running correctly, but it also helps them to run a little cooler, and in the summer, every little bit helps.

Remember, when cleaning bulbs and reflectors, use clean, lint-free rags and an approved cleaner for your UV system. Most maintenance teams use ammonia-free glass cleaner.

4. While the units are out for cleaning, now is the perfect time to remove the housing (specifically on microwave units) and blow out some of the dust and debris that may have collected over time. Dust coating the magnetron cooling fins of other parts can reduce the cooling of those parts and some air will restore them to peak cooling operation. Keep in mind, the air you use should be clean, dry and oil-free. If your shop’s air is dirty or has water or even oil, it’s best to use canned air.

5. Before you put those UV lamps back into place, if your process uses a quartz plate, you might as well clean that too. This is another part of the optical system of UV systems and UV energy must pass through the quartz to your product, so keep it clean.

6. Let’s not forget our power supplies and power supply cabinets. If you have a cabinet, check those filters. They are often forgotten and should be changed as part of regular maintenance.

7. Some cabinets have air conditioning (AC) units mounted to them to keep the power supplies or ballast cool. Now is a good time to change those filters and maybe even blow out the condenser fins if they are coated with dust.

8. Next the power supplies and ballasts themselves, whether in a cabinet or stand alone. Get all that dust that builds up over time out of them too. As with the lamps, dust buildup can and will reduce how efficiently they cool.

Parts running hot fail and fail more often and sooner then anyone would like. By taking the time to do a little spring cleaning now, you can help to ensure that your UV curing system is running smoothly all summer long.

One last tip for a fun and safe summer. Many companies bring interns or temporary help during the summer. Just like all the summer bugs to outside lights, UV light is very bright and attracts attention. Anyone with access to the manufacturing floor or are going to be working around any UV system, please make sure it’s part of your safety training for the summer help. If you make it part of your safety training and operations tour, they will be less curious.

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Photography by David Bohrer, National Assoc. of Manufacturers and Gary Landsman, Gary Landsman Photography

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