UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print companies. And this includes are many tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities minimizing materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte printer, thinks of benefits associated with UV printers and UV technology, the first word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are capable of printing on virtually anything,” he was quoted saying.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed in a wide variety of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are now in a position to accept short-run print jobs as well as long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The ability to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, in addition to handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Ability to “keep everything under one roof” is a big value for production, he said.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to increase output and fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When equipped with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have already been in a position to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to battle. For the smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold to what can be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the types of substrates which can be printed upon. As an example, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on anything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have got a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that may print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms as well as other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes for their own reasons in-house, he explained.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to change around projects faster, because their printing cures the moment it will come off of the press. “We were speaking with a consumer this coming year going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and they will likely be in a position to significantly decrease their production time since they will be able to immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is very important to many clients. That’s particularly true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back opened printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED has made possible printing upon an even wider array of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has long been a challenge with traditional UV, and yes it was solved with the development of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and contains lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power in the printer, the lamps would be required to come up to temperature, and once these were up you were ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on while they did in the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-mainly because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You had to take into account the degradation of power of the lamps by giving them a growing number of power until you no longer had the energy to gain the specified result. With the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
Based on a European power study that had been conducted using UV LED Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power than the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not have to are the cause of degradation of the bulb, they no more have to adjust the color since the bulb degrades.
The consequence of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment as time passes and reduce energy consumption. As a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t suffer from color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, many is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mixture of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that offer faster speed. There’s no limitation in the speed as a byproduct in the curing, and that we are able to carry out some interesting things together with the curing finish, making a matte or gloss effect with just how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Financial savings are viewed as a prime good thing about UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of promoting and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip lots of the labor-intensive steps by printing right to most substrates, he said. “Further, UV LED lamps will be more cost-effective since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to warm-up and stay on when in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be under other print technologies, leading to ink financial savings which will help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings as a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm is definitely the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt power source. “That makes it appealing to small enterprises, mainly because they don’t must contract with the electrician to implement the latest press,” she said. “It’s not simply for print providers. It can match many kinds of businesses that are printing since it fits in a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of advertising for that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company may be the North American sales and marketing arm for the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also may include Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset brand of wide-format inkjet production printers sold by Fujifilm worldwide.
LED inks use UV reactants that cure within the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to enhance in this respect.
“What it means for that user of your printers is at this time, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a little narrower, we need to print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He explained some printers make use of a hybrid of UV and UV LED, using the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they can get a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and getting a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are now extremely expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and during this process enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, garment printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the ideal combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing and so on new opportunities is probably the chief great things about UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range of substrates available allow PSPs to consider new markets.
“For example, things that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can be completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the consumer to get complete control over quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print providers may offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic because of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus much more about the printing, and much less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and less expense.”