UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print agencies. Among them a wide range of tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array 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 associated with UV printers and UV technology, the very first word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are capable of 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 capable to accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The ability to produce specialized and smaller-sized pieces and long-run campaigns, in addition to handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Ability to “keep it all under one roof” is a huge value for production, he said.
“Smaller PSPs are using UV printing technology to boost output and better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops happen to be capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to consider. For that smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold to what could be produced on these devices, 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 extends to the kinds of substrates that can be printed upon. As an illustration, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on anything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have got a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that will print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing numbers of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms as well as other clients, even though many design firms are printing prototypes for themselves on-site, he stated.
From your perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible advantages of UV printing is that it allows PSPs to change around projects more rapidly, since their printing cures when it comes off the press. “We were speaking with a customer this coming year going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, plus they are going to be able to significantly decrease their production time because they will be able to immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is essential to many clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago opened up printing on a range of substrates, and UV LED has made 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 difficult with traditional UV, and it also was solved with the introduction of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and possesses lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open according to the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps would have to appear to temperature, and when these people were up you have been ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on while they did from the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You had to take into account the degradation of power of the lamps by giving them a growing number of power until you no longer had the strength to achieve the specified result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
According to a European power study that had been conducted using phone case printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not need to take into account degradation of the bulb, they no longer have to adjust the hue as being the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Particularly, PSPs can stay away from the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates exposed to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less need for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. Being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. 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 variety of UV LED and mercury arc lamps that provide faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed being a byproduct from the curing, therefore we can do a little interesting things with all the curing finish, making 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 good thing about 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 straight to most substrates, he said. “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 while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be below other print technologies, ultimately causing ink financial savings which will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings as being 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 will make it attractive to small enterprises, since they don’t have to contract having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not merely for print providers. It can go with many kinds of companies that are printing because it fits in just a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of promoting to the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization is 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 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 boost in this way.
“What that means for the user in the printers is right now, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a little narrower, we will need to print slower going to that sweet spot.”
He explained some printers utilize a hybrid of UV and UV LED, together with the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they may have a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and having a sufficient cure.”
Another benefit for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are now extremely expensive, but market forces may very well drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot retain the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing as well as on new opportunities is among the chief advantages of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider variety of substrates available allow PSPs to consider new markets.
“For example, products which were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for this job, enabling the user to get complete control of quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies may offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic due to technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus much more about the printing, and fewer on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”