UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print service providers. Among them are many tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array of capabilities and minimize materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte printer, thinks about advantages of UV printers and UV technology, the very first word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he explained.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are being used in numerous large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are now able to accept short-run print jobs in addition to long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The opportunity 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. Capability to “keep all of it under one roof” is an important value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to boost output and fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For the smaller shop, the opportunity to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold to what could be produced on these products, 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 reaches the sorts of substrates that could be printed upon. For example, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on anything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that may print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing numbers of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes for their own reasons on-site, he explained.
Through 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 transform around projects quicker, as their printing cures when it comes from the press. “We were talking with a customer this season going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and so they are going to be capable to significantly decrease their production time because they should 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 very important to a lot of clients. That’s extremely true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back opened printing on a selection of substrates, and UV LED made possible printing with an even wider selection of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely an issue with traditional UV, plus it was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles to and fro jetting the ink, and it 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 appear to temperature, as soon as these folks were up you had been ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on while they did within the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for ten thousand hours-because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade as time passes. You needed to account for the degradation of power from the lamps by providing them a lot more power until you will no longer had the energy to achieve the required result. With all the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
According to a European power study that was conducted using UV Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not need to account for degradation from the bulb, they no more have to adjust the hue as the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to make use of heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less requirement for adjustment after a while and decrease energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t need to handle 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 around the speed as a byproduct from the curing, and that we can do some interesting things with the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated in the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Saving money are viewed as a prime good thing about 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 stated. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more inexpensive because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps which need to warm up and stay on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be less than other print technologies, ultimately causing ink cost benefits that will help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with 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 source of energy. “That makes it alluring to small companies, mainly because they don’t need to contract with the electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not just for print providers. It could squeeze into many kinds of businesses that are printing as it fits in just a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of promoting for the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The corporation 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 brand 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 enhance in this way.
“What it means for the user in the printers is at the moment, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a bit narrower, we will need 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 way they can get yourself a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers which can be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and getting a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV will be the UV LED lamps are presently very expensive, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, garment printer cannot secure the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the ideal mixture of technology for speed and quality.”
The opportunity to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is among the chief great things about UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider array 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 be carried out in house, securing all revenue and margin for the 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 offer higher-value alternatives that had been previously unrealistic because of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus much more on the printing, and much less about the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that result in lower shipping costs and much less expense.”