Does Long-Term Exposure to Natural Light Damage Machinery and Inventory?

Does Long-Term Exposure to Natural Light Damage Machinery and InventoryAre you worried about natural light damaging your machinery or products? While long-term exposure to UV radiation can damage some synthetic polymers, most of the daylighting systems available today make this a nonissue.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss a common concern for business owners: the effect of natural light on equipment, furniture, and products. Read on to learn whether your products could be damaged by long-term exposure to natural sunlight.

What is UV degradation?

Have you ever seen a frayed rope that’s been sitting in the sun for too long? When certain synthetic polymers, such as polypropylene, sit in the sun for too long, they can weaken and become irreversibly damaged.

This process is known as ultra-violet (UV) degradation. As the name suggests, it’s what happens when synthetic polymers are exposed to ultra-violet radiation from the sun.

Certain materials, including Kevlar, can become serious damaged by exposure to ultra-violet radiation. The damage from UV can often make inventory unsuitable; one of the biggest fears of many retailers and fulfillment center owners.

How do skylights prevent UV degradation?

The damaged caused by UV to certain synthetic polymers isn’t due to light, but the radiation produced by this light. Modern skylights include filters and film to reduce the amount of ultra-violet radiation that passes through the glass itself.

This means that regardless of how much light passes through a skylight, almost no UV radiation will pass onto products and equipment. The end result is a workplace or building that’s illuminated but largely free of ultraviolet radiation.

Because of this, almost any workplace can be lit using natural light. When you install a modern skylight with protective UV film, you’re preventing the damage that occurs when products are stored outside without any UV protection.

Why does plastic turn yellow from sunlight?

Have you ever noticed an old TV or gaming console turning yellow because of sun exposure? This is often due to low quality plastic more than it is due to long-term sunlight exposure.

When some synthetic polymers are exposed to UV rays, tertiary carbon bonds can become activated and free radicals can form. These free radicals can react with the oxygen in the air to tear apart the fabric or cause it to lose its color.

‘Yellowing’ occurs more often in old products, since most modern plastic products are made using anti-UV chemicals. These chemicals are called UV stabilizers since they absorb UV radiation and disperse it in the form of heat energy.

Making sure your products are protected from UV

Modern technology makes it possible to test UV protection without spending years observing plastic products in direct sunlight. Special UV degradation machines can simulate 63 years of UV exposure on certain synthetic polymers in as little as one year.

Almost all plastics used in manufacturing go through the UV protection process as they come onto the market, making most products safe from UV. If your company offers storage of fulfillment services, it’s worth inquiring with your customers to learn about the UV degradation prevention capabilities of their products.

Yes, it’s safe to install skylights in your storage facility

Thanks to modern skylight technology and plastic stabilizers, it’s perfectly safe to store your products under sunlight. Since many industrial skylights use diffusing technology to reduce glare, the actual ‘sun exposure’ can be incredibly low.

In fact, there are many benefits of storing your products in an environment that’s subject to natural light. From the anti-bacterial properties of light to the improved productivity, lighting your building naturally has a serious range of benefits.

“Image courtesy of Ryan McVay/”

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