PlayNitride-SolidUV partnership seeks to light up polymer curing

Polymer curing applications are continuing to adopt LEDs that emit long wavelength UVA ultraviolet light. This will help the UVA LED market to grow from US$107 million in 2015 to US$357 million by 2021, according to the “UV LEDs – Technology, Manufacturing and Application Trends” report form Yole Développement, released in July 2016.

While UV LED penetration is increasing in all curing applications, many challenges have to be overcome for wide adoption. A closer relationship between the different industry players, including ink formulators, UV LED manufacturers, and UV LED curing module manufacturers, is one approach to achieving this.
For example, PlayNitride is developing advanced UV LED systems for curing, in a strategic partnership with Solid UV. Yole Développement interviewed Bob Karlicek, President of Solid UV, and Sheng-Yuan Neo Sun, Product Manager of PlayNitride, in order to understand the main challenges facing UV LED module development and his expectations for the UV curing market in 2017.

Close relationship between the different industry players

CloseRelationshipBetweenDifferentIndustryPlayers Yole 2016

(Source: UV LEDs – Technology, Manufacturing and Application Trends,
Yole Développement, July 2016)

Yole Développement: Can you please Introduce Solid UV, PlayNitride, their activities, and their relationship?
Bob Karlicek: PlayNitride Inc. was formally established in June 2014 by a group of partners with its target to “Change the world”. For the UV curing market, we want to bring higher quality products to the UV LED Curing technology space, and are working with SolidUV to co-develop advanced UV LED systems using their IP. Together, these two companies have many years of advanced LED systems development and work closely together to advance the state-of-the-art in high power UV LED curing systems.

YD: What are the main challenges for UV LED modules for printing and coating applications?SolidUV 1 Yole 2016
BK: There are several. First, the UV curing market is highly segmented and there is a widely varied relationship between ink and coating formulation development and the specifics of the UV curing process. Materials developed for mercury lamps typically don’t work well with UV LED systems, so new formulations need to be – and are continually being – developed. Second, LEDs are monochromatic, and traditional mercury UV lamps emit many wavelengths with complex relationships between power, wavelength, formulation and final curing results. While we can supply systems that emit at multiple UV LED wavelengths today, emission in the UVB and UVC regions is still a problem for LED technology. Third, cost of UV LED inks and coatings, as well as the UV LED curing systems themselves remain high relative to the incumbent mercury UV lamp curing system technology.

SYNS: There is no standard for UV LED industry. It makes customers hard to compare one supplier’s product with another one. In addition, customers can not interchange their UV LED lamp easily.

YD: What are the main barriers for UV LED integration and what are the options for overcoming them?
BK: While some may disagree, the main barriers remain irradiance, absence of UVB/C capabilities, and cost. These challenges will be overcome by implementing the latest in advanced LED, thermal management and optical design solutions in a cost effective way for both the formulator and the end user.

YD: With the increasing number of UV LED module suppliers, how will you differentiate from the others?
BK: Our patented large chip technologies and other proprietary capabilities enable a simplified system design that provides high irradiance, larger working distances, simplified wavelength mixing, and a more flexible, modular and cost effective system design than available from other suppliers.

YD: What do you expect from the curing market in 2017?
BK: We expect that UV LED curing system adoption will accelerate over the next one to two years, especially as closer integration of formulations and UV LED capabilities are developed.

YD: As UVB and UVC LED prices are strongly decreasing, are you working on applications using these LEDs?
BK: Absolutely!


RobKarlicek SolidUVRobert F. Karlicek, Jr., Ph.D.
President, SolidUV, Inc. and Director, Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA)
Professor, Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dr. Robert F. Karlicek, Jr. directs the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications (LESA), is a Professor of Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the founder and President of SolidUV. In addition to developing advanced LED systems solutions for lighting and UV curing, he has performed fundamental opto-electronics research and held technical management positions at AT&T Bell Labs, General Electric, W. L. Gore and Associates, as well as several high-tech startup companies. He obtained his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and has over 45 published technical papers and 40 issued U.S. patents.


ShengYuanNeoSun PlayNitrideSheng-Yuan Neo Sun, Product Manager, PlayNitride

B.S., Physics, National Chang Hua University of Education – 2005
M.S., Photonics Technologies, National Tsing Hua University – 2007

Senior Engineer, Genesis Photonics Inc. – 2008~2014
Senior Engineer, PlayNitride Inc. – 2014~2015
Product Manager, PlayNitride Inc. – 2015~Present

Best Student Paper Award, OPT International Conference – 2007

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