UV Ballast & Bulb Maintenance

Part 4 in Miltec’s Maintaining UV System Performance Blog Series

Routine lamp maintenance is important to maintaining a healthy UV curing system. It is important to try to keep lamps as clean as possible to ensure consistent UV output and prolong their useful life. Most UV lamps operate in industrial environments that are typically less than ideal.

Neglected lamps will age and fail prematurely, as well as suffer from low UV output. The simplest way to clean your UV bulbs is with a designated UV glass bulb cleaner and a lint-free cloth.

Some UV bulbs need to be cleaned often, and some less often. The frequency of cleaning will vary depending on the environment in which they operate. Dirty and contaminated UV bulbs that operate for prolonged periods are more prone to overheating and then swelling or warping.

If a UV bulb swells or warps, this will negatively impact the UV peak irradiance output of the lamp and the curing performance of the UV lamp system. Once a UV bulb appears swollen or warped, this is a sign that the UV bulb should be replaced.

Filter Failure

The heart of any UV system is the expensive power supply driving the UV lamp. Whether a conventional iron core ballast or a solid-state power unit, the proper volume of filtered cooling airflow delivered to the ballast is critical to the health and life expectancy of any ballast and other electrical components inside the ballast enclosure. 

Air filters should be replaced as often as needed, depending on the environment. In the event the ballast and other internal power supply components (such as capacitors) become coated with dirt or dust (like shown in the photo below), it is highly recommended to do two things:

  • Check the air filter and replace it if needed.
  • Blow out the ballast and all other internal components with clean, dry compressed air, and then vacuum out the settled dust.

If air filters are used to help keep the lamp cooling air clean (which is common for microwave-powered UV lamp systems), then it is important to change these filters periodically.

Maintaining clean air filters also ensures that the volume of air delivered to the ballast and the lamp is maintained within the required specification. Power supplies operating in a dirty or over-heated environment can deteriorate or fail prematurely resulting in low UV output and lost production. And, operating a UV lamp system with dirty and clogged air filters will almost always result in over-heated UV bulbs and a significant reduction in UV bulb life, causing you to change UV bulbs much more frequently.

Checking air filters regularly will ensure a consistent cure and prolong the life of bulbs and parts.

In our Maintaining UV System Performance blog series, we have covered Cooling & Airflow, Reflectors, and Light Shielding. If you are having issues with your UV curing system, we can help with a free UV Performance Check. Our UV system check will include the inspection of your UV system and may include radiometer readings showing the output and performance of your UV system with the goal of identifying which parts that may need to be replaced to ensure maximum UV output of your lamp system. We can also provide recommendations for preventive maintenance tasks to help ensure consistent UV performance for years to come.. Request your Performance Check here.

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

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