UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print agencies. One of them are numerous tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider variety of capabilities and lower materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks of advantages of 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 being used in a wide variety of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are actually able to accept short-run print jobs and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The cabability 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. Capacity to “keep all of it under one roof” is a big value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to increase output and fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. To the smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
While there’s a threshold to what might be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the sorts of substrates that may 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 up to six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we can easily even print on cowbells.”
Increasing variety of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes on their own on-site, he said.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible benefits associated with UV printing is it allows PSPs to make around projects more rapidly, as their printing cures once it comes down from the press. “We were talking to a consumer this current year going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, plus they will probably be in a position to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they can immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to numerous clients. That’s extremely true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago exposed printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED has made possible printing by using an even wider variety of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has always been challenging with traditional UV, and yes it was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles to and fro jetting the ink, and contains lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open based on the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would have to surface to temperature, and when these folks were up you have been ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on since they did in the traditional process. The lamps last considerably longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You have to take into account the degradation of power in the lamps by giving them increasingly more power until you will no longer had the power to get the specified result. With the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
In accordance with a European power study that had been conducted using phone case printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power than the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Not only do operators not have to account for degradation of the bulb, they not any longer have to adjust the hue because the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is the ability to utilise heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates exposed to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. As being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste as well. They don’t have to deal with color shift or materials melting beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, most is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a variety of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that offer faster speed. There’s no limitation around the speed as being a byproduct of the curing, and we can easily do some interesting things with all the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated around the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost savings are seen as a prime good thing about UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of advertising 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 need to warm up and remain on while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be below other print technologies, leading to ink financial savings which can help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt source of energy. “That will make it attractive to small companies, because they don’t need to contract with the electrician to implement the new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It may fit into many kinds of businesses that are printing mainly because it fits in just a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of advertising to the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company is definitely 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 line of wide-format inkjet production printers sold by Fujifilm worldwide.
LED inks use UV reactants that cure inside the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to improve in this respect.
“What it means for your user from the printers is today, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we must print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He stated some printers utilize a hybrid of UV and UV LED, using the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only way they are able to get yourself a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he was quoted saying. “On the printers which can be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and receiving a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV will be the UV LED lamps are extremely expensive, but market forces will likely drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and in the process enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, dtg printer cannot keep the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the most effective mixture of technology for speed and quality.”
The opportunity to focus more attention on printing and so on new opportunities is among the chief benefits of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider array of substrates available allow PSPs to find new markets.
“For example, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling an individual to obtain complete control over quality and delivery,” he said. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies may offer higher-value alternatives which were previously unrealistic because of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more about the printing, and less on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and much less expense.”