UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print companies. And this includes are lots of tangible benefits that enable shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider variety of capabilities minimizing materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte coffee printer, thinks about benefits associated with 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 able to accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The ability 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 everything under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to enhance output and much better fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When equipped with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be in a position to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For that smaller shop, the opportunity to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
While there’s a threshold as to what could be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter because of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the sorts of substrates that may be printed upon. As an example, 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 up to 220 pounds,” he was quoted saying. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms as well as other clients, while many design firms are printing prototypes on their own in-house, he stated.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible benefits of UV printing is it allows PSPs to change around projects faster, as their printing cures as soon as it appears away from the press. “We were talking to a buyer this season going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, and so they will be capable to significantly decrease their production time simply because they will be able to immediately finish this product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to many people clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years ago opened up printing on a range of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing with an even wider selection of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat happens to be difficult with traditional UV, and it was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he said.
“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 the printer, the lamps will have to come up to temperature, and when these folks were up you had been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on since they did in the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for ten thousand hours-because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You needed to account for the degradation of power from the lamps by offering them a lot more power until you will no longer had the ability to achieve the specified result. Using the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
In accordance with a European power study which 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 make up degradation from the bulb, they no more must adjust the hue since the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, get rid of the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment with time and reduce energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t need to deal with color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, most 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 about the speed as a byproduct of your curing, so we are able to do some interesting things using the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with just how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated about the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Financial savings are viewed as a prime benefit from UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of marketing and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing instantly to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more inexpensive simply because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that want to warm-up and remain on when in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes can be under other print technologies, creating ink cost benefits that can help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings like a UV LED benefit. Among the products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt source of energy. “That makes it popular with small companies, 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 kinds of companies 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 for that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization will be the North American sales and marketing arm for the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings comes with Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset type 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” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to boost in this respect.
“What that means for that user of your printers is right now, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a touch narrower, we have to print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He said 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 have a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are presently very costly, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 make an effort to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, dtg printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the most effective blend of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing as well as on new opportunities is probably the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range of substrates available allow PSPs to consider new markets.
“For example, things that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be carried out house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the user to have complete control over quality and delivery,” he said. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers may offer higher-value alternatives that were 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 less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They could also buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”