UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print agencies. And this includes a wide range of tangible benefits which allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider selection of capabilities and lower 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 associated with UV printers and UV technology, the first word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he said.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are being used in numerous types of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities have become capable of accept short-run print jobs in addition to long-run assignments, dramatically growing work at home opportunities and profits.
The ability 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. Capability to “keep all of it under one roof” is a big value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to boost output and much better fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have been capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to take on. For your smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
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 growing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the types of substrates that can be printed upon. As an example, Roland’s VersaUV printer-cutters can print on anything from box and carton materials to shrink-wrap films.
“We use a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that could print on wood, plastic and metals around six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we can even print on cowbells.”
Increasing quantities of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes on their own in house, he said.
From the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the more tangible benefits of UV printing is it allows PSPs to transform around projects more quickly, because their printing cures the moment it appears off the press. “We were talking with a customer this year going from solvent solution to a UV cure solution, and they also will probably be able to significantly decrease their production time simply because they are able to immediately finish this product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is very 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 opened up printing on a selection of substrates, and UV LED makes possible printing with an even wider array of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat is definitely difficult with traditional UV, and it was solved with the creation of UV LED,” he explained.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and possesses lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power up the printer, the lamps will have to surface to temperature, and when these folks were up you have been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t occur and remain on because they did in the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-mainly because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade after a while. You experienced to take into account the degradation of power of your lamps through giving them a growing number of power until you no longer had the ability to achieve the desired result. With the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
Based on a European power study that had been conducted using UV 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 have to make up degradation of your bulb, they no more must adjust colour because the bulb degrades.
The effect of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates exposed to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, remove the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less desire for adjustment with time and reduce energy consumption. As being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t need to handle color shift or materials melting beneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, almost all is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a combination of UV LED and mercury arc lamps offering faster speed. There’s no limitation on the speed like a byproduct of the curing, therefore we can easily do some interesting things together with the curing finish, building a matte or gloss effect with just how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost savings are seen as a prime advantage of UV LED, stresses Ken VanHorn, director of marketing and business development for Mimaki USA in Suwanee, GA. Users can skip many of the labor-intensive steps by printing directly to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps tend to be more cost-effective because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to heat and remain on while in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be lower than other print technologies, creating ink financial savings that can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, as well as space, savings as a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm is the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt source of energy. “That makes it alluring to small enterprises, because they don’t ought to contract with the electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It could match many kinds of firms that are printing because it fits in 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 organization may be the North American sales and marketing arm for the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings also 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 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 further improve in this respect.
“What which means to the user of your printers is today, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a touch narrower, we will need to print slower hitting 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 way they could 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 receiving a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are currently very costly, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 make an effort to advance inks, trying to widen the sweet spot, and during this process enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, dtg printer cannot retain the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the most effective blend of technology for speed and quality.”
The opportunity to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is among the chief advantages of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider range of substrates available allow PSPs to look for new markets.
“For example, things 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 that job, enabling an individual to get complete power over quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers can provide higher-value alternatives that have been previously unrealistic on account of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more about the printing, and fewer around the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that cause lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”