UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print companies. Among them are lots of tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and minimize materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks of benefits associated with UV printers and UV technology, the 1st word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he explained.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed in numerous large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are in a position to accept short-run print jobs and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The ability to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, together with handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Capacity to “keep it all under one roof” is an important value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to improve output and better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to battle. For your smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold as to what might be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the kinds of substrates that could be printed upon. As an illustration, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on anything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We possess a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that may print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he was quoted saying. “Heck, we can even print on cowbells.”
Increasing quantities of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and also other clients, while many design firms are printing prototypes for their own reasons in house, he said.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible great things about UV printing is it allows PSPs to change around projects more quickly, because their printing cures the moment it comes down from the press. “We were speaking with a customer this current year going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, plus they will probably be capable to significantly decrease their production time because they can immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is important to numerous clients. That’s extremely true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back opened up printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing on an even wider assortment 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 it also was solved with the creation of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and contains lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in line with the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would be required to come up to temperature, as soon as these people were up you had been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on because they did from the traditional process. The lamps last considerably longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade after a while. You needed to account for the degradation of power in the lamps through giving them more and more power until you no longer had the energy to achieve the desired result. With the UV LED lamps, there is no degradation of power.”
Based on a European power study which had been conducted using phone case printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not have to account for degradation in the bulb, they no longer ought to adjust the hue as the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less desire for adjustment with time and reduce energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting within the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a combination of UV LED and mercury arc lamps offering faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed being a byproduct from the curing, and that we can do a little interesting things together with the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated about the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost benefits are seen as a prime benefit of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of promoting and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip many of the labor-intensive steps by printing instantly to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps are definitely more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to warm-up and remain on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes can be lower than other print technologies, creating ink saving money that can help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings as a UV LED benefit. Among the products from Fujifilm is definitely the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That makes it alluring to smaller businesses, simply because they don’t must contract having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not simply for print providers. It might go with many kinds of companies that are printing since it fits within a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing to the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization may be the North American sales and marketing arm to the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also may include Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset line of wide-format inkjet production printers sold by Fujifilm worldwide.
LED inks use UV reactants that cure in the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to enhance in this way.
“What which means for your user of the printers is at the moment, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a little narrower, we have to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying some printers utilize a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only way they can get yourself a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he was quoted saying. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are now very costly, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, endeavoring to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot keep the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is among the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider selection of substrates available allow PSPs to look for new markets.
“For example, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be carried out in house, securing all revenue and margin for the job, enabling an individual to obtain complete power over quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers can provide higher-value alternatives which were previously unrealistic as a result of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and much less in the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”