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Metal Halide lamps


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Metal Halide Lamp

Selecting the right light source, on whose emission spectrum "matches" your UV formulation, sometimes requires metal halide lamps.

TCS manufactures metal halide lamps ranging from 1.5'' to 80'' in arc length and power ratings up to 1000 watts per inch.

White pigmented coatings benefit from exposure to a gallium doped mercury lamp.

Adding iron produces a broader spectral distribution.

In general, operation of metal halide lamps requires a special ballast.


Metal halide lamp application notes

In the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light is just below visible light. The wavelength of UV rays is shorter than the violet end of the visible spectrum but longer than the X-ray.  UV energy is measured in nanometers (nm). Of particular interest to the UV curing process is the range 240 nm to 440 nm. This area of electromagnetic radiation is further divided into several broad classifications: UVA, UVB, UVC and UVV. Of these UVC reflects the shortest wavelength area, i.e. lowest nanometer measurement.

Mercury vapor lamps produce copious amounts of UVC. They are the workhorse of the industrial curing industry. Customarily they are used to cure press varnish, inkjet and screen inks. Lamps are inexpensive and dependable.

When one transitions from varnish to inks, one soon discovers that longer wavelengths are required for thorough cure. In other words certain inks behave differently to UV light. In an attempt to provide output over a broader spectral area, metal halides are added to mercury lamps. Black and white inks cure at higher wavelengths. Black inks benefit from iron iodide lamps with their increased output between 350 to 390 nanometers.

Likewise colors such as whites and metallics are more difficult to cure due to the pigment, titanium dioxide or aluminum flake either absorbing or reflecting the UV.  These benefit from using gallium iodide UV curing lamp.

The obvious question is why aren’t all UV systems produced using metal halide lamps? 

At TCS Technologies we believe in providing useful use information free of sales hype. On a practical basis metal halide lamps especially iron iodide lamps are fraught with operating issues. They are hard to start, must be run only at high power and are extremely easy to overcool.  Metal halide lamps have a strict temperature profile and are not intended to be dimmed i.e. operated at reduced power. These lamps are designed, electrode chosen and bulbs shaped based on a certain power. Lamp output will not remain stable unless operated at high power level. UV equipment designers seem to overlook this requirement and attempt to operate these lamps as if they were pure mercury vapor. Customers just want to cure. They could care less about the fine details. Often times they are misled by UV equipment companies that one can “just interchange lamps” (metal halide for mercury) and their problems will go away.  Let me assure you it does not matter how efficient the cure, if the lamp will not light or gets dim each time one closes a shutter.  Gallium iodide lamps have far fewer quirks and are available over a wide range of arc lengths. Iron iodide lamps have far more issues. If you must use iron lamps, keep arc length to under 10-inches.


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TCS Technologies - Wide Format Digital Inkjet UV Printing Lamps
Manufacturer of ultraviolet (UV) curing lamps and quartz plates-UV inkjet lamps, flatbed UV lamps, Subzero replacement lamps and UV curing parts suitable for all known UV curing systems