UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print companies. One of them are lots of tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities minimizing materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks of benefits of UV printers and UV technology, the initial word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he explained.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed in a wide variety 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 business opportunities and profits.
The cabability to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, as well as handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Ability to “keep everything under one roof” is an important value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to improve output and much better fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have already been in a position to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to use on. For your smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact tha harsh truth.”
While there’s a threshold as to what can be produced on these products, 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 kinds of substrates that can 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 have a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that will print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing approximately 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing numbers of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and other clients, while many design firms are printing prototypes for their own reasons in-house, he explained.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the most tangible benefits associated with UV printing is that it allows PSPs to transform around projects quicker, as their printing cures as soon as it appears away from the press. “We were speaking with a customer this year going from solvent means to fix a UV cure solution, and they also will likely be capable of significantly decrease their production time simply because they should be able to immediately finish this product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital to numerous clients. That’s especially true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen in the past opened printing on a range of substrates, and UV LED has created possible printing upon an even wider assortment of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat happens to be challenging with traditional UV, and it was solved with the creation of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and has lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open based on the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would be required to surface to temperature, as soon as they were up you had been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and stay on since they did in the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You experienced to take into account the degradation of power in the lamps by giving them more and more power until you will no longer had the power to achieve the preferred result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
As outlined by a European power study that was conducted using phone case printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power in comparison to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not need to make up degradation of the bulb, they no more must adjust colour as being the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can avoid the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less requirement for adjustment with time and decrease energy consumption. As a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste also. They don’t need to deal with 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 variety of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that offer faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed like a byproduct from the curing, therefore we can carry out some interesting things with all the curing finish, creating 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 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 most of the labor-intensive steps by printing directly to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more cost-effective because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to heat up and remain on when in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be less than other print technologies, creating ink cost savings that will help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings as 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 power source. “That causes it to be appealing to small companies, because they don’t need to contract by having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not merely for print providers. It may fit into many kinds of firms that are printing as it fits inside a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing for that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization may 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 enhance in this way.
“What it means for that user in the printers is today, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we will need to print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He explained some printers use 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 get a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he was quoted saying. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are now very costly, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 make an effort to advance inks, attempting 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 continues to engineer the most effective mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is one of the chief benefits of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider array of substrates available allow PSPs to search for new markets.
“For example, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can be finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the consumer to get complete control over quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print providers can offer higher-value alternatives that had been previously unrealistic on account of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and less on 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.”