UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print agencies. One of them a wide range of tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider selection 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 about 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 explained.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed in numerous types of 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 along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The capability 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 all of it under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to boost output and better fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to use on. For your smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold as to what can be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold keeps growing shorter as a result of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the types of substrates that can be printed upon. For example, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on everything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We possess a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that can print on wood, plastic and metals as much as 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 and other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes by themselves on-site, he was quoted saying.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the most tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to turn around projects quicker, since their printing cures once it comes off the press. “We were chatting with a consumer this current year going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and they will likely be capable to significantly decrease their production time since they can immediately finish the item,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to numerous clients. That’s especially true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago opened printing on a variety of substrates, and UV LED has created 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 was solved with the development of UV LED,” he stated.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles back and forth jetting the ink, and has lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power in the printer, the lamps would need to show up to temperature, and once they were up you had been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on while they did from the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-mainly because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade as time passes. You experienced to are the cause of the degradation of power of your lamps by giving them more and more power until you will no longer had the strength to achieve the specified result. With the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
As outlined by a European power study which was conducted using UV Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power than the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not need to take into account degradation of the bulb, they not any longer must adjust colour as the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to utilise heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates subjected to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste as well. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mix of UV LED and mercury arc lamps which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation on the speed as a byproduct in the curing, and that we are able to perform some interesting things using the curing finish, building 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 savings are viewed as a prime benefit of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of advertising and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing directly to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps are definitely more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps which need to warm-up and remain on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be under other print technologies, resulting in ink financial savings which can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings as a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt power source. “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 different types of firms that are printing as it fits within a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of promoting for the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization is the North American sales and marketing arm for that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings 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 within the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to improve in this way.
“What this means for the user of your printers is at the moment, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we must print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He explained some printers work with 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 can get yourself a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he said. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are now expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, dtg printer cannot retain 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 also on new opportunities is one of the chief benefits of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider selection of substrates available allow PSPs to look for new markets.
“For example, items which were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing is now able to carried out in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the user to obtain complete control of quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print companies can offer higher-value alternatives that have been previously unrealistic due to technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and much less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They can also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and much less expense.”