How it works

EB, or Electron Beam, is a technology where materials and products are treated with electrons. The electrons are accelerated in an Electron Accelerator to reach a higher energy level. Electron Crosslinking Accelerators can accelerate electrons up to 300 keV.

The electrons produce ionizing radiation which is not radioavtive, and leave no residues. 

An Electron Accelerator can be compared to the cathode ray tube of a TV. A cathode is heated, starting to emit electrons. By creating a voltage between the cathode and the anode, the electrons are accelerated and steered in the right direction – onto the screen where they shape the picture.

A diagram of a Beam Accelerator

Principally the Electron Accelerator works the same way. When a tungsten cathode is heated it emits electrons. The electrons are then, like the TV electrons, accelerated by a voltage between the cathode and the anode.

The difference is that the voltage is much higher in an Electron Accelerator, giving the electrons lots of energy. They are first accelerated in vacuum, but are then, after passing through the electron-emitting window, which usually consists of a thin (10-15 micrometers) titanium foil; set free in the atmosphere of the irradiation chamber.

A diagram of the cathode / anode in a Electron Beam accelerator

When the electrons hit the product they start to interact with the material, ionizing some atoms, creating new chemical bonds. Some of the electrons penetrate the material deeper before starting to interact. This fact can be used in a number of applications, including coatings and sterilisation. When the electrons are being slowed down by the material the atoms are excited and emit X-rays, which means that an Electron Accelerator must be shielded with lead.

A diagram showing how X-rays are slowed down when entering a material and gives off ionization.

As the curing comes with the electrons, there is no need for slow, costly drying equipments or solvents in the lacquers, inks and paints. The product enters the irradiation chamber at one side and is cured, dried and ready when it exits on the other side. This process takes only fractions of seconds. The products can be handled immediately after the treatment and are fully stackable.

All in all, EB is a safe, environment-friendly, cost-effective curing method with low space and energy requirements. Feel free to contact us for further information and discussions about what EB can do for you.

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