UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print agencies. One of them are numerous tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and reduce materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte printer, thinks of great things about UV printers and UV technology, the initial 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 used in a wide variety of 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 and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities 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 it all under one roof” is an important value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs are using UV printing technology to increase output and much better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to take on. To the smaller shop, the opportunity to accept such jobs can significantly impact tha harsh truth.”
While there’s a threshold to what may be produced on these units, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold keeps growing shorter as a result of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the kinds of substrates that could 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 could print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing up to 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we can easily even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and also other clients, while many design firms are printing prototypes by themselves on-site, he stated.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible benefits associated with UV printing is it allows PSPs to transform around projects more rapidly, because their printing cures when it will come off of the press. “We were talking to a customer this year going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and they will likely be capable to significantly decrease their production time 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 essential to many people clients. That’s extremely true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years back opened up printing on a selection of substrates, and UV LED has created possible printing by using an even wider assortment of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely challenging with traditional UV, and it also was solved with the roll-out 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 up the printer, the lamps will have to surface to temperature, and when these folks were up that you were ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and remain on because they did from the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You experienced to take into account the degradation of power of the lamps by giving them more and more power until you no longer had the ability to achieve the specified result. Using 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 traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Not only do operators not have to take into account degradation of the bulb, they will no longer need to adjust the hue as the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less requirement for adjustment as time passes and decrease energy consumption. Being 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 in the speed as a byproduct from the curing, and that we can easily carry out some interesting things with all the curing finish, making a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated around the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Financial savings are seen as a prime advantage of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of promoting and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing instantly to most substrates, he said. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more inexpensive simply because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to warm up and remain on while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be below other print technologies, leading to ink cost savings which can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt source of energy. “That causes it to be alluring to smaller businesses, because they don’t ought to contract having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It might fit into many kinds of firms that are printing since it fits within a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing for your Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company is the North American sales and marketing arm for that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also may include 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 in the LED spectrum. What he calls “the sweet spot” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to further improve in this way.
“What this means for the user from the printers is at this time, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a little narrower, we must print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying some printers utilize 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 can have a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he said. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and getting a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV is the UV LED lamps are presently very costly, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 attempt to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot support the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the ideal blend of technology for speed and quality.”
The opportunity to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is amongst the chief benefits 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 completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the consumer to have complete control of quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print companies will offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic as a result of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus much more about the printing, and less on the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They also can buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”