UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print companies. And this includes are numerous tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array 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 advantages of UV printers and UV technology, the initial word that comes to mind 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 now capable of accept short-run print jobs and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The opportunity to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, along with handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Power to “keep all this under one roof” is a big value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs are employing 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 are already able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For the smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
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 as a result of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the sorts of substrates that could 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 possess a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that will print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he explained. “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 by themselves in-house, he said.
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 transform around projects more quickly, as their printing cures as soon as it comes off the press. “We were talking with a consumer this season going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, plus they will be able to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they should 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 vital to numerous clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back exposed printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED made possible printing on an even wider array of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has always been a challenge with traditional UV, and it was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles forward and backward jetting the ink, and has lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps would have to appear to temperature, and as soon as these people were up you have been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on as they did inside the traditional process. The lamps last for a longer time-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply 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 in the lamps by offering them a growing number of power until you will no longer had the energy to gain the preferred result. With all the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
According to a European power study which had been conducted using UV Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not need to make up degradation in the bulb, they will no longer have to adjust the colour since the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates exposed 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. As being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, the majority is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a variety of UV LED and mercury arc lamps offering faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed being a byproduct of the curing, and that we can easily do a little interesting things using the curing finish, creating a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated about 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 advertising and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip lots of the labor-intensive steps by printing straight to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps are more cost-effective since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to heat up and stay on while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes can be under other print technologies, creating ink financial savings which can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings as being a UV LED benefit. One of the products from Fujifilm is definitely the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs on a 110-volt power source. “That causes it to be alluring to small enterprises, since they don’t must contract by having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It could fit into many different types 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 promoting for that 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 comes with Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset collection 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 boost in this way.
“What this means for your user of your printers is at the moment, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we have to print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He explained 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 way they could get a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers which can be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and receiving a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are presently extremely expensive, but market forces will likely drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, dtg printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the best mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is probably 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 which were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the consumer to obtain complete control over quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies 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 much more on the printing, and less 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.”