Wood & Panel

Justas Zvikas

Justas Zvikas

Wood & Panel had the chance to interact with, GEW (EC) Limited and know more about GEW and their entry into wood coatings.

GEW, the world leading manufacturer of UV arc, UV LED and excimer lamps for printing, coating and converting applications has installed over 20,000 systems worldwide, with many of them in their focus market of narrow web printing since 1991. More recently, GEW have entered the wood coating market, with their high-powered LeoLED product again at the forefront. As many of the industry’s leading manufacturers look to reduce energy costs, and with some of those having banned mercury usage altogether, LED represents the ideal energy-saving alternative to the typical UV curing systems that are currently commonplace in the market.

Wood & Panel had the chance to interact with, GEW (EC) Limited and know more about GEW and their entry into wood coatings. Here is the replica.

WPE: Who is GEW?

Justas Žvikas: Based in England, GEW is a modern family business that has built a strong position of leadership in the printing business over the past 30 years.

GEW is the world‘s biggest producer of UV and UV LED curing systems, having installed more than 24,000 systems worldwide across our primary markets, such as label and narrow web printing, and sheetfed offset. With headquarters based in the UK, our team is supported by a USA subsidiary and a branch office in Germany. We also have a worldwide distributor base that offers sales and service support across our main markets.

In recent years, we have taken our world-leading products into new industries, with our latest venture into the wood and surface coating market. Our move into this industry has been driven by a growing need in the market for greener drying alternatives. Traditionally, this sector has been dominated by mercury arc or IR drying methods, but our LED systems offer companies an energy efficient alternative at a highly competitive price, whilst also satisfying governmental directives in the industry.

Following this growth into more markets, and the increased demand for UV LED products across a broader scope of applications, GEW is now developing a major new production building adjacent to its current Crawley HQ, which will primarily be dedicated to the optimisation of production operations. Market demand is at an all-time high, and so the drive has begun to take advantage of these opportunities.


WPE: What can the wood industry expect from GEW?

Justas Žvikas: We are not alone in the market, so we fully understand the challenges. As for the wood industry itself, there is a broad diversity of finishing options available that can be applied to similar products,  whether that is furniture, joinery, or the flooring industry.

As an example, a door can be coated by hand-spraying or with a robot, applying curtain coater, flow coater, or by surface application with rollers. But in all cases, the question is how to dry the coated film, and how to do it instantly?

In most cases, UV arc or UV LED curing offers a cost-effective, instant drying solution… and it does so during most parts of the coating process.

In terms of GEW, our team of engineers and designers have a great deal of experience in integrating lamps into the most complex processes, doing so for a range of customers worldwide, and across a range of applications.

As an example from the wood industry, lamps can be easily integrated into old compact drying booths dedicated to tile or profile production, into standard spray lines, and most commonly, to retrofit flatbed roller lines from different manufacturers and types. If a customer can use any sort of UV drying coat, GEW will solve any lamp integration issues.

Using the accumulated experience in the printing, automotive, or even leather painting industry, we can safely say that the extremely powerful LED and UV arc systems we supply cover almost all existing needs. Nonetheless, we continue to be innovative and agile, as we focus on our continual adaptation to the needs of customers in the wood market.


WPE: Does GEW have both UV LED and mercury arc solutions for wood coating  applications.

Justas Žvikas: Yes indeed. Many years have passed since the company began by introducing a unique, versatile UV arc dryer, which quickly conquered most of the UK graphic arts market, and subsequently spread to all continents.

For many years, sophisticated UV arc systems have been an integral part of the printing industry, and GEW’s technical UV solutions, monitoring, and parameter tracking systems have been at the cutting edge.

However, with the development of LED, UV arc systems, especially in the wood industry, have become little more than a solution for the small number of coatings that LeoLED cannot cure. However, due to the noticeable technological progress in semiconductors and diode engineering, we expect to introduce solutions that will completely replace UV bulbs in the coming years, primarily in the UVC wave range where LED lamps still cannot provide a curing solution. Therefore, when talking about full LED applications, it should be kept in mind that UV mercury lamps remain part of some painting systems, especially when it comes to final surface curing. However, the progress in the short-wave diode industry seems optimistic and we believe there will soon come a time when LED curing fully replaces mercury arc curing for the wood industry.


WPE: Can you briefly share with us the benefit of using GEW UV for wood coating?

Justas Žvikas: Firstly, GEW can offer the wood industry a full range of solutions, from standard air-cooled UV arc dryers to hybrid water and air cooling. Also, the already mentioned LED dryers can be provided in the most popular wavelengths, such as 365nm, 385nm, 395nm or 405nm. It is important to emphasise that our water-cooled LED system, LeoLED, is one of the most powerful on the market today, so it is not only economical and safe, but also ensures a high energy peak and, most importantly, it delivers the highest dose of UV energy.

Our reliable LeoLED system is IP67 protected. This means the sealed system is easy to maintain and clean, and there are no filters or air circulation, therefore the system is very quiet with an estimated lifetime of 50,000 hours. We currently maintain more than 30,000 lamps on the market, so we can provide a 5-year unconditional guarantee, being sure of their reliability. Last but not least, cooperation with other organisations in the drying process is also vitally important. This means  our R&D, our service people, our distributors, as well as our internal sales and design teams, all work closely with paint manufacturers so that we can always provide expert technical advice when planning a GEW curing system.


WPE: Please tell us about the operation of E4C?

Justas Žvikas: E4C is a powerful UV lamp, cooled by both air and water, that is capable of emitting up to 240W/m of electrical power. In many cases, such a lamp can replace bulky low-power dryers. Water cooling of the reflectors ensures quiet operation and minimum required air circulation, whilst also reducing heat transfer to the substrate.

Customers appreciate this product because it is such a reliable solution, born of expert engineering. It should be said that any upcoming ban on the use of mercury lamps in the EU will undoubtedly reduce the need for such dryers, but the most unique thing is that GEW not only owns more than one patent but is a complete pioneer of interchangeable UV systems, so customers in the future will only need to change the cassette when changing their coating line from UV to LED; the power supply and the rest of the sub-components will remain the same.


WPE: Is it possible to switch between LED technologies and mercury arc?

Justas Žvikas: In short, yes. Changing UV to LED becomes a two-minute operation. GEW’s ArcLED UV technology allows the interchanging of a UV Arc lamp or LED array in the same housing.

So, how easy does it become to change UV mercury to gallium. or to operate within different LED wavelengths? As a company, we always like challenges but our ArcLED technology, the ability to switch between the technologies, makes this process almost seamless, as long as you have the different wavelength lampheads, the power supplies and ancillary equipment, and as long as the chemistry is correct.


WPE: ExciRay is one of your unique products for wood laminating. What are its main features?

Justas Žvikas: Back in the 19th century, scientists defined the UVC wavelengths as most efficient for germicidal inactivation. It took nearly 100 years more for the first ExciRay lamp to be produced as we have it today, with all its features. Typical 172 nm ultraviolet radiation, most commonly used with Excimer lamps, is utilised across a range of applications, such as modification of surface tension for improved adhesion, surface cleaning, for semiconductor and medical industries, and certainly for the mattification of surface coatings.

For wood laminating, ExciRay is part of a complex process in which radiation from the lamps fully cure the top layer of coating, whilst the shrinkage causes microfolding, which results in a matt surface.

As this process must be inerted, the lamp is placed in a chamber with an adjustable nitrogen level. Because the process ensures a particularly hard and resistant surface, the first sectors to discover this technology have been floor manufacturers and certainly many R&D centres that see the future of this technology.

Read Magazine Online

Subscribe to our Newsletters

I want to receive wood industry news and event update from Wood & Panel. I have read Wood & Panel Privacy Notice.

Our Partners