UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print service providers. One of them are many tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array 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 coffee printer, thinks of great things about 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 employed in a multitude 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 as well as long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The cabability 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. Capacity to “keep it all under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to increase output and fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For the smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold to what can be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the sorts of substrates that may be printed upon. As an illustration, 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 could print on wood, plastic and metals up to six inches thick, and weighing up to 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we can easily even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and other clients, although design firms are printing prototypes for themselves in house, he stated.
From your perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible benefits associated with UV printing is it allows PSPs to make around projects quicker, because their printing cures as soon as it comes off of the press. “We were talking with a customer this season going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, and so they will be capable to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they will be able to immediately finish the item,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is essential to numerous clients. That’s particularly 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 made possible printing by using an even wider variety 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 development of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles to and fro jetting the ink, and has 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 be required to come up to temperature, and when they were up you had been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on as they did inside the traditional process. The lamps last considerably longer-being rated for ten thousand hours-because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You experienced to account for the degradation of power from the lamps by offering them more and more power until you will no longer had the energy to achieve the specified 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 UV LED Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not have to account for degradation of the bulb, they will no longer need to adjust the colour as being the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to utilise heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can stay away from the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment over time and reduce energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, many is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mix of UV LED and mercury arc lamps which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation around the speed as a byproduct in the curing, so we have the ability to perform some interesting things with all the curing finish, building a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on 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 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 explained. “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 while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be lower than other print technologies, leading to ink cost benefits which will 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. One of many products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That makes it attractive to small companies, since they don’t need to contract with the electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It may match 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 advertising to the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The business may be the North American sales and marketing arm to 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 throughout the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to boost in this respect.
“What this means to the user of your printers is right now, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we have to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He stated some printers work with a hybrid of UV and UV LED, together with the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only way they can obtain a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and getting a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are now very costly, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, trying to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, garment printer cannot keep the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the best mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The opportunity to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is among 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, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can be completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for that job, enabling the consumer to have complete control of quality and delivery,” he said. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies can provide 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 about the printing, and fewer on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that cause lower shipping costs and less expense.”