UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print companies. One of them a wide range of tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and minimize materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks of great things about UV printers and UV technology, the first word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are capable of printing on virtually anything,” he stated.
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 actually capable to accept short-run print jobs as well as 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. Capability to “keep it all under one roof” is a huge value for production, he said.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to boost output and much better fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have been capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to use on. To the smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold from what might be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold keeps growing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the kinds of substrates which can be printed upon. For instance, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on everything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that can print on wood, plastic and metals up to six inches thick, and weighing approximately 220 pounds,” he stated. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing variety of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and also other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes for themselves in-house, he was quoted saying.
From your perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the most tangible benefits of UV printing is that it allows PSPs to turn around projects more rapidly, because their printing cures as soon as it comes away from the press. “We were chatting with a client this current year going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, and so they are going to be capable of significantly decrease their production time because they will be able to immediately finish the merchandise,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is essential to a lot of clients. That’s extremely true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago opened up printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing with an even wider variety of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely difficult with traditional UV, plus it was solved with the development of UV LED,” he said.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles forward and backward jetting the ink, and it has lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would need to appear to temperature, and once they were up you have been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on as they did within the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-mainly because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You experienced to are the cause of the degradation of power of your lamps through giving them more and more power until you no longer had the power to acquire the preferred result. With all the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
Based on a European power study that had been conducted using UV 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 take into account degradation in the bulb, they no more must adjust the colour because the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Particularly, PSPs can avoid 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 need for adjustment as time passes and reduce energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste also. They don’t suffer from color shift or materials melting under the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mixture of UV LED and mercury arc lamps which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation around the speed being a byproduct of your curing, so we can do a little interesting things with all the curing finish, making a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost benefits are viewed as a prime benefit from 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 directly to most substrates, he was quoted saying. “Further, UV LED lamps are definitely more cost-effective mainly because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to warm up and remain on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be lower than other print technologies, resulting in ink saving money 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. Among the products from Fujifilm is definitely the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That causes it to be appealing to small enterprises, since they don’t need to contract by having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not just for print providers. It could go with many kinds of businesses that are printing since it fits within a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing 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 that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also includes 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 throughout the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to further improve in this way.
“What which means for your user from the printers is right now, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a touch narrower, we need to print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying some printers work with a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with all the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they could get yourself a full cure would be to cure with mercury arc,” he said. “On the printers which can be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are currently very expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, dtg printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the ideal mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is amongst the chief advantages of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range of substrates available allow PSPs to search for new markets.
“For example, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing is now able to finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for this job, enabling the person to possess complete control of quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers can offer higher-value alternatives that have been previously unrealistic on account of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and fewer on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”