I just returned from the RadTech UV&EB 2008 Technology Expo and Conference, held in Chicago at McCormick Place, Lakeside, and I must say the venue was perfect. It happened to be a couple of those rare Chicago picture-perfect days, and from the conference session rooms you could walk about six feet and be outside on one of the roof levels of McCormick overlooking the whole lake. Outstanding for a breath of fresh air and, at breaks, many of us joined the smokers to enjoy the view and the weather.

The four-day event was a smashing success in my estimation. The conference sessions I listened to were very well attended – in fact one of the earliest sessions on waterborne formulation was standing room only for a time, and it was held in a very large room. This is good – particularly in view of the impending threat of travel cost increases due to higher oil prices. UV technology surely has advanced in order to have a complete session on waterborne formulation for radiation cure with a number of excellent presentations and an obviously interested audience. The prior problems associated with water have seemingly been solved.

Other sessions dealt with analytical measurements, kinetics, cationic, high-performance coatings, electronics applications, UV/EB chemistry, UV-curing equipment, the REACH impact, green chemistry, inkjet, photoinitiators, EHS concerns, printing and packaging, UV&EB for FDA direct food contact packaging, industrial applications, raw materials, wood coatings, graphic arts, electron beam, global markets, adhesives, formulation, and nanomaterials. This is a healthy assortment of topics – all of which had good, solid presentations. In addition, I found it interesting to attend some unusual sessions. One of these was called New Product Debut, and companies/speakers had 15 minutes to discuss their new introductions. This was similar to product presentations sometimes given on show floors, but I liked this approach as it was concise, all were there in one location and it forced the speakers to hit the meat of the topic in short order. Nicely done and of great interest.

They also had as part of the conference a full-day session called Focus on UV&EB in China and another full-day session titled Focus on UV&EB in Japan. Again, these sessions provided a nice venue for encompassing the global nature of the industry. Another part of the program I thought attractive was the End-User sessions. There were full-day sessions for end users on wood finishing and building products, automotive OEM and refinish, aerospace and defense applications, printing and packaging, and industrial applications. Speaking at these sessions were representatives from companies such as Ford, Kraft, BASF, PPG, 3M, Northrup Grumman, Armstrong World Industries, Red Spot, and the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy. All in all there was something for everyone, and attendees had a lot to choose from.

There were approximately 125 exhibitors focused on formulators and end users. The radiation cure market segment is able to bring together both groups very successfully under one umbrella, which is a large part of their success. All parties can converse and exchange ideas and solutions.

If you were looking to learn, to grow, to change your business practices, to formulate, to network or just to share ideas, RadTech 2008 was the right location. The radiation cure market is still growing, but not so much because of regulatory issues but because of greater long-term cost savings.