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 permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider variety 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 great things about UV printers and UV technology, the initial word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he was quoted saying.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are being used in a multitude of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities have become able to accept short-run print jobs in addition to long-run assignments, dramatically growing online business offerings 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. Ability to “keep it all under one roof” is a huge value for production, he said.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to improve output and better fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to consider. For your smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold as to what may be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the types of substrates that may 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 use a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that can print on wood, plastic and metals around six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he stated. “Heck, we can even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and also other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes for themselves in house, he explained.
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 turn around projects quicker, because their printing cures the moment it comes from the press. “We were talking with a client this current year going from solvent means to fix a UV cure solution, plus they will likely be able to significantly decrease their production time because they are 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 many people 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 with 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 creation 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 according to the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps would have to come up to temperature, and when these folks were up that you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and remain on as they did from the traditional process. The lamps last considerably longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-since they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You experienced to make up the degradation of power in the lamps by offering them more and more power until you no longer had the power to get the specified result. With all the UV LED lamps, there is no degradation of power.”
Based on 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 compared to traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not need to make up degradation in the bulb, they no more must adjust the color because the bulb degrades.
The consequence of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can avoid the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment with time and decrease energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t have to deal with color shift or materials melting within 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 which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation in the speed like a byproduct of your curing, so we have the ability to perform some interesting things using the curing finish, making 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.”
Cost benefits are seen as a prime benefit of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of marketing and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip many of the labor-intensive steps by printing right to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps are more cost-effective because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that want to heat and remain on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes could be below other print technologies, leading to ink cost savings which will help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of many products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt source of energy. “That makes it appealing to smaller businesses, because they don’t have to contract with the electrician to implement the new press,” she said. “It’s not just for print providers. It could fit into many different types of firms 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 the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company will be the North American sales and marketing arm for the 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” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to boost in this respect.
“What that means for the user in the printers is at the moment, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a touch narrower, we will need to 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 having a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are expensive, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, endeavoring to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, garment printer cannot support the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing and so on new opportunities is among the chief advantages of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider selection of substrates available allow PSPs to consider new markets.
“For example, items which 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 your job, enabling the person to obtain complete control over quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print companies 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 much more about the printing, and much less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that result in lower shipping costs and much less expense.”