UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great number of advantages for print service providers. And this includes a wide range of tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities and minimize materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte printer, thinks about benefits associated with UV printers and UV technology, the 1st word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he stated.
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 to accept short-run print jobs and also long-run assignments, dramatically growing business opportunities and profits.
The capability 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 a big value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs use UV printing technology to increase output and fulfill the needs of the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have already been able to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to battle. To the smaller shop, the ability to accept such jobs can significantly impact the important thing.”
While there’s a threshold from what might be produced on these devices, requiring some print campaigns to migrate to traditional printing methods, that threshold is increasing shorter on account of today’s UV-inkjet capabilities.
Versatility also extends to the types of substrates that could 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 will print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he said. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing amounts of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, although many design firms are printing prototypes on their own on-site, he stated.
From your perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, one of the most tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to transform around projects more quickly, because their printing cures once it comes down off the press. “We were talking to a customer this coming year going from solvent answer to a UV cure solution, plus they will likely be able to significantly decrease their production time because they should be able to immediately finish this product,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, lacking volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in UV printing is important to many 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 printing on a variety of substrates, and UV LED has made possible printing on an even wider array of materials. So said Mark Goodearl, senior marketing manager for Meredith, NH-based EFI, Inc. “Heat has long been challenging with traditional UV, plus it was solved with the development of UV LED,” he was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles forward and backward jetting the ink, and contains lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open based on the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps would have to come up to temperature, as soon as these folks were up that you were 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 ten thousand hours-because they come on / off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade as time passes. You needed to take into account the degradation of power of the lamps by providing them increasingly more power until you no longer had the strength to acquire the preferred result. Using the UV LED lamps, there is absolutely no degradation of power.”
According to a European power study that was 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.
Furthermore operators not need to make up degradation in the bulb, they will no longer need to adjust the color as being the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures may be the ability to make use of heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates open to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, get rid of the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less necessity for adjustment with time and reduce energy consumption. As being a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste at the same time. They don’t need to deal with color shift or materials melting within 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 which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation around the speed as being a byproduct of your curing, so we have the ability to perform some interesting things with the curing finish, setting up a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated about the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Financial savings are seen as a prime benefit from 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 right to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps will be more inexpensive since they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that need to warm up and stay on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes might be lower than other print technologies, leading to ink saving money which can help a shop offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, in addition to space, savings being a UV LED benefit. One of the products from Fujifilm is the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that runs using a 110-volt power source. “That can make it popular with small enterprises, since they don’t ought to contract with the electrician to implement the new press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It can squeeze into many different types 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 promoting for your Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The organization will be the North American sales and marketing arm for your 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 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 enhance in this way.
“What that means to the user of your printers is at this time, LED is restricted to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot is a bit narrower, we will need to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He stated some printers utilize a hybrid of UV and UV LED, with the UV LED employed to pin the drop and control dot gain. “But the only way they are able to get yourself a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he said. “On the printers which are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV is the UV LED lamps are now extremely expensive, but market forces will likely drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 aim to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and at the same time 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 continues to engineer the very best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing and on new opportunities is probably the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider variety of substrates available allow PSPs to find new markets.
“For example, items that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can now be completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for the job, enabling an individual to obtain complete power over quality and delivery,” he said. “Since all the different substrates is virtually unlimited, print providers can provide higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic because of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and fewer on 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.”