UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print providers. Among them are many tangible benefits that enable shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider variety of capabilities and lower materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks about 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 explained.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed 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 and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The capability 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. Capability to “keep everything under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to boost output and fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have been capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to battle. To the smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold from what could be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the sorts of substrates that could be printed upon. For example, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on everything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that will print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing up to 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes by themselves in-house, he explained.
In the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible benefits associated with UV printing is it allows PSPs to transform around projects more rapidly, as their printing cures when it appears off of the press. “We were speaking with a client this current year going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, and they also will likely be able to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they can immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to many clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen in the past exposed printing on a selection of substrates, and UV LED has made possible printing on an even wider variety of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely a challenge with traditional UV, plus it was solved with the introduction of UV LED,” he stated.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles forward and backward jetting the ink, and possesses 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 need to surface to temperature, and as soon as they were up you were 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 considerably longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-since they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade after a while. You had to are the cause of the degradation of power in the lamps by giving them more and more power until you no longer had the energy to gain the required result. With all the UV LED lamps, there is not any 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 traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not need to are the cause of degradation from the bulb, they no more have to adjust the colour because the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can stay away from the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, get rid of the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment as time passes 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 beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, most is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mix of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that provide faster speed. There’s no limitation on the speed like a byproduct of the curing, and that we can carry out some interesting things using the curing finish, creating a matte or gloss effect with just how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated in 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 advertising 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 stated. “Further, UV LED lamps will be more cost-effective because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to heat and remain on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes could be less than other print technologies, ultimately causing ink saving money which can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings like a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That causes it to be popular with smaller businesses, simply because they don’t need to contract having an electrician to implement the latest press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It can go with many different types of firms that are printing mainly because it fits within a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of advertising for the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company is definitely 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 brand 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 it means for that user of your printers is today, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a little narrower, we have to print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He said some printers utilize a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with 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 explained. “On the printers which can be 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 expensive, but market forces may very well drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 strive to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the very best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is amongst the chief features 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 can be carried out house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the user to have complete control over quality and delivery,” he was quoted saying. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies can provide higher-value alternatives that have been 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 around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and much less expense.”