UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print agencies. One of them are many tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider selection of capabilities and minimize 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 of benefits of UV printers and UV technology, the first 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 employed in numerous types of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities have become capable to accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The capability 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. Ability to “keep it all under one roof” is a huge value for production, he stated.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to increase output and much better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to use on. To the smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold as to what can be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold keeps growing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the sorts of substrates that could be printed upon. As an illustration, 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 may print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he was quoted saying. “Heck, we could 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 their own reasons on-site, he was quoted saying.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible advantages of UV printing is that it allows PSPs to turn around projects more quickly, because their printing cures when it will come from the press. “We were talking with a buyer this season going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, and so they are going to be capable to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they can immediately finish the item,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the absence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is important to many people clients. That’s especially true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago exposed printing on a range of substrates, and UV LED has 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 challenging with traditional UV, and yes it was solved with the development of UV LED,” he stated.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles to and fro jetting the ink, and contains lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in line with the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps would have to come up to temperature, and once these people were up you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and remain on while they did within the traditional process. The lamps last considerably longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You needed to take into account the degradation of power from the lamps by offering them a lot more power until you no longer had the energy to acquire the required result. Together with 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 in comparison to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Not only do operators not need to account for degradation of the bulb, they not any longer ought to adjust the color since the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less desire for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t suffer from color shift or materials melting beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all 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 about the speed as being a byproduct from the curing, so we can perform some interesting things with the curing finish, building 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 marketing and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip lots of the labor-intensive steps by printing directly to most substrates, he said. “Further, UV LED lamps are more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps which need to warm-up and stay on when in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be below other print technologies, leading to ink cost benefits that will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings as a UV LED benefit. One of the products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt source of energy. “That causes it to be popular with small enterprises, since they don’t must contract by having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It can go with many kinds of businesses that are printing because 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 corporation may be the North American sales and marketing arm for your 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 inside the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” for curing with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to further improve in this way.
“What it means for the user of your printers is at the moment, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a touch narrower, we have to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He said some printers work with 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 can get yourself a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he said. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and receiving a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV is the UV LED lamps are expensive, but market forces may very well drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 strive to advance inks, trying to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, dtg printer cannot retain the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the very best mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is amongst the chief benefits of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range of substrates available allow PSPs to look for new markets.
“For example, products which were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be carried out in house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the person to have complete power over quality and delivery,” he was quoted saying. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies may offer higher-value alternatives which were previously unrealistic on account of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more about the printing, and less about the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They could also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”