Conference attracts academic, industrial experts in photopolymerization

The PPG Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, Pennsylvania recently hosted “Photopolymerizations Fundamentals and Applications,” a national conference about photopolymerization technology that was attended by members of the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC).


One hour in the summer sun is all it takes to demonstrate that light can change the color of our skin. That same phenomenon is behind the development of photopolymers, UV-light-activated resins that are harnessed by scientists through a process called photopolymerization to develop high-performance coatings and paints.

PPG was recently at the eye of the photopolymerization universe when it hosted a national conference devoted to the technology at the PPG Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, Pennsylvania.

Titled “Photopolymerizations Fundamentals and Applications,” the event attracted nearly 40 industry and academic experts, all members of the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), an applied and theoretical research consortium formed in 2012 by the University of Iowa, University of Colorado and six member companies, including PPG.

The three-day forum featured 12 trade-show-like poster presentations that enabled attendees to walk the floor and speak one-on-one with experts about their specific research projects. There were also eight one-person panel presentations featuring project updates about active IUCRC-funded initiatives such as “Monitoring Real-Time Initiator/Monomer Interactions and Photopolymerization Efficiencies with Simultaneous UV-Vis/FTIP Spectroscopy.”

Irina Schwendeman, PhD., PPG senior group leader, industrial coatings, and Aneta Bogdanova PhD., PPG research associate, industrial coatings—who initiated and maintain collaboration with the IUCRC for PPG—organized the conference, including two networking dinners and a tour of the Coatings Innovation Center.

Crystal G. Morrison, PhD., PPG senior research manager, industrial coatings, said that hosting the conference was an important milestone for PPG. “This event is a great example of how we are trying to drive fundamentals, promote technical excellence and accelerate innovation through collaboration with external and internal resources,” she said. “PPG’s participation in the IUCRC helps our researchers learn what universities are doing to make the photopolymer technology more useful, while universities get real-world perspective and more informed knowledge of industry trends.”

Photopolymers use light to activate changes in polymer chemistry to produce desired finish properties such as increased hardness. The process offers tremendous advantages over traditional thermal processing methods such as lower energy consumption, greater control over the initiation of chemical reactions and higher polymerization rates.

PPG is a leader in photopolymerized UV coatings for electronics, as well as coatings for wood and LVT (luxury vinyl tile) flooring. PPG also makes UV coatings for coil (building products) and UV-cure inks for packaging. The coatings are formulated primarily to enhance abrasion resistance and hardness.