UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print service providers. Among them a wide range of tangible benefits that enable shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider variety 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 first word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he explained.
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 are now 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, along with handling color management and production schedules, allows larger shops to effectively control timelines and fulfillment schedules. Power to “keep everything under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing 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 are already capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to use on. To the smaller shop, the cabability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
While there’s a threshold to what might be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is growing shorter because of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the kinds of substrates which can be printed upon. For instance, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on everything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We have a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that may print on wood, plastic and metals around six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he stated. “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, although design firms are printing prototypes on their own on-site, he was quoted saying.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to turn around projects more rapidly, because their printing cures when it comes off the press. “We were chatting with a customer this season going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, and so they will likely be capable to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they are able to immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the absence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is very 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 in the past exposed printing on a variety of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing upon an even wider variety of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely challenging with traditional UV, and it was solved with the introduction of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles back and forth jetting the ink, and possesses lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in line with the UV process.
“The operator would power within the printer, the lamps would be required to surface to temperature, and once they were up you were ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and stay on since they did from the traditional process. The lamps last much longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-since they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You had to account for the degradation of power in the lamps by offering them a lot more power until you will no longer had the strength to acquire the desired result. Together with the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
Based on 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.
Not only do operators not need to are the cause of degradation of the bulb, they not any longer ought to adjust the color as being the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Specifically, PSPs can steer clear of 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 desire for adjustment with time and decrease energy consumption. As being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t suffer from color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, many 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 in the speed like a byproduct of your curing, so we are able to do some interesting things using the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated around the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost benefits are seen as a prime benefit of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of promoting and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip lots of the labor-intensive steps by printing right to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps will be more cost-effective since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to heat up and remain on while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be under other print technologies, creating ink financial savings that will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings as a UV LED benefit. Among the products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That can make it popular with small businesses, mainly because they don’t have to contract by having an electrician to implement the new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It may match many kinds of firms that are printing as it fits in 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 corporation is definitely the North American sales and marketing arm to the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings comes with 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 in 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 that user from the printers is at this time, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we have to print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying some printers work with a hybrid of UV and UV LED, using the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they can 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 getting a sufficient cure.”
An additional advantage for traditional UV is definitely the UV LED lamps are presently very costly, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 strive to advance inks, endeavoring to widen the sweet spot, and during this process enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, garment printer cannot retain the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca will continue to engineer the ideal mix of technology for speed and quality.”
The capability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is among the chief advantages 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 is now able to completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for the job, enabling the consumer to have complete control over quality and delivery,” he was quoted saying. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies may offer higher-value alternatives which were previously unrealistic due to technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more about the printing, and much less around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They could also buy thinner materials that lead to lower shipping costs and much less expense.”