UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print agencies. And this includes are numerous tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array of capabilities and reduce materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, coffee printer, thinks about benefits of UV printers and UV technology, the first word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he was quoted saying.
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 capable to accept short-run print jobs as well as long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home 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. Ability to “keep everything under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are using UV printing technology to enhance output and better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When equipped with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to use on. For the smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold from what may be produced on these products, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold keeps growing shorter because of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the sorts of substrates that may be printed upon. For instance, 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 will print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he stated. “Heck, we could even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms as well as other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes on their own in house, he stated.
In the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, probably the most tangible advantages of UV printing is it allows PSPs to turn around projects faster, because their printing cures as soon as it comes down off the press. “We were talking to a consumer this current year going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, plus they will probably be capable to significantly decrease their production time since they can immediately finish the merchandise,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the possible lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is important to numerous clients. That’s particularly true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago showed printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing with an even wider assortment of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat happens to be a challenge with traditional UV, and it was solved with the development of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles back and forth jetting the ink, and contains lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open according to the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would have to surface to temperature, and when they were up you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and remain on as they did within the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-since they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You needed to are the cause of the degradation of power of the lamps by offering them more and more power until you no longer had the energy to achieve the desired result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is no degradation of power.”
Based on a European power study which had been conducted using UV 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 make up degradation from the bulb, they not any longer must adjust colour because the bulb degrades.
The consequence of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can avoid the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment as time passes and decrease energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste as well. They don’t need to deal with color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mixture of UV LED and mercury arc lamps which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed like a byproduct of the curing, so we have the ability to carry out some interesting things together with the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated in the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost benefits are viewed as a prime benefit of 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 stated. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more cost-effective mainly because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps which need to warm-up and remain on when in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be under other print technologies, leading to ink financial savings which will help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of many products from Fujifilm is the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt power source. “That will make it alluring to smaller businesses, mainly because they don’t have to contract having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not just for print providers. It may go with many different types of firms that are printing because it fits inside a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of advertising for that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The corporation is definitely the North American sales and marketing arm for your Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also may include 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 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 boost in this respect.
“What this means for the user of your printers is at this time, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we have to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying some printers use a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with all the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only way they may have a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers that happen to be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
Another benefit for traditional UV is the UV LED lamps are extremely expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and in the process enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot keep the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the most effective mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing as well as on new opportunities is one of the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider selection 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 carried out house, securing all revenue and margin for this job, enabling the consumer to get complete power over quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print companies can offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic on account 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 could also buy thinner materials that result in lower shipping costs and much less expense.”