UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print providers. Among them are lots of tangible benefits that allow 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, latte printer, thinks of benefits of UV printers and UV technology, the 1st word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are capable of printing on virtually anything,” he was quoted saying.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are used in numerous types of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are in a position to accept short-run print jobs and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing online business offerings and profits.
The opportunity 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. Capacity to “keep all this under one roof” is an important value for production, he stated.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to boost output and fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to consider. For your smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold from what might 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 types of substrates which can 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 use a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that may print on wood, plastic and metals around six inches thick, and weighing up to 220 pounds,” he stated. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing numbers of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes by themselves in house, he was quoted saying.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to make around projects faster, as their printing cures once it comes off the press. “We were talking to a buyer this coming year going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, and they also are going to be capable to significantly decrease their production time simply because they will be able to immediately finish the merchandise,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to numerous clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back showed printing on a variety of substrates, and UV LED has created possible printing with an even wider selection of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has long been difficult with traditional UV, and it was solved with the creation of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles back and forth jetting the ink, and possesses lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps will have to show up to temperature, as soon as these were up that you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on as they did inside the traditional process. The lamps last for a longer time-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade after a while. You have to take into account the degradation of power of the lamps by offering them a growing number of power until you will no longer had the power to achieve the specified result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
As outlined by a European power study which had been conducted using UV LED Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power in comparison to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not need to take into account degradation of the bulb, they not any longer ought to adjust colour because the bulb degrades.
The consequence of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can avoid the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment with time and decrease energy consumption. Like 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, the majority 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 from the curing, and that we can easily do some interesting things using the curing finish, creating a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on 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 advertising and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip many of the labor-intensive steps by printing straight to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps are more cost-effective because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to heat and stay on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be lower than other print technologies, ultimately causing ink cost savings that can help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings as 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 power source. “That will make it attractive to small companies, because they don’t have to contract with an electrician to implement the latest press,” she said. “It’s not merely for print providers. It could go with many kinds of companies that are printing because it fits inside 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 company may be the North American sales and marketing arm for that 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 inside the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to improve in this way.
“What that means for the user of the printers is right now, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a bit narrower, we will need to print slower going to 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 way they may have a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and getting a sufficient cure.”
Another benefit for traditional UV will be the UV LED lamps are expensive, but market forces will likely drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, dtg printer cannot support the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the very best mixture of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is one of the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider array of substrates available allow PSPs to search for new markets.
“For example, things that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing is now able to completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the person to have complete control of quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies may offer higher-value alternatives which were 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 on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and less expense.”