UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print service providers. Among them are many tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and minimize materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte coffee printer, thinks about great things about UV printers and UV technology, the first word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are capable of printing on virtually anything,” he said.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are employed in numerous large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are actually capable of accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The ability 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. Capacity to “keep all this under one roof” is an important value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to boost output and better fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided 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 battle. For your smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact tha harsh truth.”
While there’s a threshold to what might be produced on these products, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter as a result of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the kinds of substrates that could 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 may print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we can easily even print on cowbells.”
Increasing variety of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms as well as other clients, while many design firms are printing prototypes by themselves in house, he explained.
In 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 that it allows PSPs to make around projects more rapidly, since their printing cures when it comes down off the press. “We were talking to a consumer this season going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and they will likely be capable to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they are able to immediately finish the merchandise,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is important to numerous clients. That’s especially true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen yrs ago exposed 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 is definitely an issue with traditional UV, and it was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles back and forth jetting the ink, and possesses lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in line with the UV process.
“The operator would power within the printer, the lamps would have to appear to temperature, and as soon as these people were up that you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and stay on since they did in the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You needed to are the cause of the degradation of power from the lamps by providing them a growing number of power until you will no longer had the strength to acquire the desired result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is no degradation of power.”
According to a European power study that had been conducted using UV LED Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power than the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not need to account for degradation in the bulb, they no longer must adjust the color since the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to make use of heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates subjected to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, eliminate the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less requirement for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste as well. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting within 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 offering faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed like a byproduct of your curing, and that we can easily do a little interesting things using 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.”
Saving money are seen 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 a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing straight to most substrates, he said. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to warm up and stay on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes can be below other print technologies, resulting in ink saving money which will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, along with space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs on a 110-volt source of energy. “That can make it appealing to smaller businesses, mainly because they don’t ought to contract by having an electrician to implement the brand new press,” she said. “It’s not merely for print providers. It could squeeze into many kinds of firms that are printing mainly because it fits in just a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing for the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company will be the North American sales and marketing arm for that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also 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 boost in this respect.
“What it means for the user of your printers is at this time, 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 was quoted saying some printers work with a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with all the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they could get yourself a full cure is to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers that happen to be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and receiving a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are currently extremely expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 strive to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time enable faster curing to take place.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot support the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the very best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is one of the chief advantages of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range 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 is now able to finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling an individual to possess complete control of quality and delivery,” he stated. “Since the range of substrates is virtually unlimited, print providers will offer higher-value alternatives that have been previously unrealistic because of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus much more about the printing, and less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and much less expense.”