Published: Jan 2002
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FREE RADICAL RADIATION CURING of coatings began in the late 1950s at Ford Motor Company. Dr. William Burlant of this company was interested in ionizing radiation and the effect it had on organic molecules . He knew that ionizing radiation was capable of initiating very rapid reactions and was interested in polymerizations that could be initiated with such high-energy radiation. In the beginning, the efforts were not really directed towards coatings. However, before the studies had gone very far, Burlant realized that radiation-cured coatings might be an assembly line application for the technology, and his group held a special demonstration for Henry Ford and Ford's senior engineers. The process being revealed had the benefits of rapid cure rate, no appreciable substrate or cured-film temperature rise, and no volatile solvents. In the 1950s, the latter factor was of importance mainly because of energy costs and secondarily because of environmental concerns, since at this time it took about a half hour at elevated temperatures to remove solvent and to effect cross-linking of automobile coatings.