UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print companies. One of them a wide range of tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and reduce 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 advantages of UV printers and UV technology, the initial word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he stated.
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 in a position to accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing online business offerings and profits.
The opportunity to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, as well as 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 big value for production, he said.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to boost output and fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have already been able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For the smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact tha harsh truth.”
While there’s a threshold to what might be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the kinds of substrates that may be printed upon. As an illustration, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on everything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have got a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that will print on wood, plastic and metals around six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing quantities of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes for their own reasons in house, he explained.
From your 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 that it allows PSPs to make around projects more rapidly, since their printing cures once it comes down from the press. “We were speaking with a buyer this season going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and they also will probably be in a position to significantly decrease their production time simply because they can immediately finish the item,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is essential 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 on an even wider assortment 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 introduction of UV LED,” he said.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and has lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in line with the UV process.
“The operator would power within the printer, the lamps would need to show up to temperature, and as soon as these folks were up you were ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on while they did in the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for ten thousand hours-since they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade as time passes. You needed to make up the degradation of power of the lamps by offering them a growing number of power until you will no longer had the power to achieve the required result. With the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
In accordance with a European power study that was conducted using UV LED Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power than the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not have to make up degradation in the bulb, they will no longer need to adjust the hue as the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is the ability to make use of heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can stay away from the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, get rid of the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment with time and decrease energy consumption. As a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t have to deal with color shift or materials melting under the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, the majority is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mixture of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that offer faster speed. There’s no limitation on the speed as a byproduct of your curing, so we have the ability to perform some interesting things using the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with just how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Financial savings are viewed as a prime advantage of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of promoting and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing straight to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps will be more inexpensive simply because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to warm up and remain on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes could be below other print technologies, ultimately causing ink financial savings which will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings like a UV LED benefit. One of the products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That will make it popular with small enterprises, mainly because they don’t ought to contract by having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It can squeeze into many different types of firms that are printing since it fits in 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 organization may be 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 collection 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” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to improve in this way.
“What it means for the user of your printers is at this time, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a bit narrower, we have to print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying 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 method they could get yourself a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he was quoted saying. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are presently expensive, but market forces will likely drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 strive to advance inks, trying to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot retain the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the most effective mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing as well as on new opportunities is one of the chief features 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 is now able to carried out house, securing all revenue and margin for the job, enabling an individual to obtain complete power over quality and delivery,” he said. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers will offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic due to technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and less in the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They can also buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and less expense.”