UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print service providers. Among them are lots of tangible benefits that allow shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and reduce materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte printer, thinks of great things about UV printers and UV technology, the very first word that comes to mind is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he explained.
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 able to accept short-run print jobs along with long-run assignments, dramatically growing online business offerings and profits.
The opportunity 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. Power to “keep all of it under one roof” is a large value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are using UV printing technology to enhance output and much better fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When designed with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops are already able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem not big enough to consider. For your smaller shop, the capability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
While there’s a threshold from what might be produced on these products, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter due to today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also reaches the sorts of substrates which can be printed upon. For example, 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 can print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we can even print on cowbells.”
Increasing quantities of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and other clients, although design firms are printing prototypes by themselves on-site, he explained.
In the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, just about the most tangible benefits of UV printing is that it allows PSPs to transform around projects quicker, as their printing cures as soon as it comes down off of the press. “We were talking with a buyer this current year going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, and they also will likely be capable of significantly decrease their production time because they should be able to immediately finish the product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the absence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is vital 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 printing on an array of substrates, and UV LED made possible printing with an even wider selection of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has always been a challenge with traditional UV, and it was solved with the introduction of UV LED,” he said.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles backwards and forwards jetting the ink, and contains lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would have to appear to temperature, and when they were up you have been ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and stay on as they did within the traditional process. The lamps last a lot longer-being rated for 10,000 hours-because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You had to account for the degradation of power of your lamps through giving them a lot more power until you will no longer had the strength to get the preferred result. With the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
According to a European power study that had been conducted using UV Printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power compared to traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not have to make up degradation of the bulb, they will no longer must adjust the color since the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to utilise heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Especially, PSPs can avoid the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates subjected to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment over 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 under 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 about the speed as a byproduct of your curing, and that we can perform some interesting things with the curing finish, creating a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated in the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost savings are viewed 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 most of the labor-intensive steps by printing straight to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps are definitely more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to heat up and remain on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be below other print technologies, creating ink cost savings which will help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, and also space, savings as being a UV LED benefit. Among the products from Fujifilm will be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs on a 110-volt source of energy. “That makes it attractive to small businesses, mainly because they don’t ought to contract with an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It might go with many different types of companies that are printing since it fits inside a smaller footprint.”
Still, traditional UV retains some advantages over LED, said Mark Schlimme, director of marketing for that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The corporation may be the North American sales and marketing arm for the Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings comes with Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset collection 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” to treat with LED inks is exceptionally narrow, and LED ink manufacturers have room to enhance in this respect.
“What which means to the user in the printers is at this time, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a bit narrower, we need to print slower to hit that sweet spot.”
He stated some printers use a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only method they may get yourself a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he stated. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV will be the UV LED lamps are presently extremely expensive, but market forces will probably drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continues dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, working to widen the sweet spot, and in the process enable faster curing to happen.
“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 blend of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing as well as on new opportunities is amongst the chief benefits 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 finished in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the consumer to have complete control over quality and delivery,” he explained. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print providers will offer higher-value alternatives that had been previously unrealistic due to technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and much less in 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 fewer expense.”