UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print providers. One of them are many tangible benefits that permit shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider assortment of capabilities minimizing materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities for profit.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte coffee printer, thinks about benefits of UV printers and UV technology, the initial word you think of is versatility. “UV printers are designed for printing on virtually anything,” he said.
Flatbed and hybrid UV printers are used in a multitude of large and small print shops, helping them grow and diversify. Larger print shops with multiple print capabilities are now in a position 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 big value for production, he explained.
“Smaller PSPs are utilizing UV printing technology to boost output and fulfill the requirements of the short-run market,” he added. “When provided with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have been capable to capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to battle. For your smaller shop, the opportunity to accept such jobs can significantly impact the bottom line.”
While there’s a threshold from what can 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 kinds 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 have got a new UV flatbed printer, the LEJ-640FT that can print on wood, plastic and metals approximately six inches thick, and weighing as much as 220 pounds,” he explained. “Heck, we are able to even print on cowbells.”
Increasing variety of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms along with other clients, although design firms are printing prototypes on their own in-house, he stated.
Through the perspective of Becky McConnell and Heather Roden, product managers at Hanover Park, IL-based Fujifilm, probably the most tangible great things about UV printing is that it allows PSPs to change around projects more quickly, since their printing cures when it appears from the press. “We were talking with a consumer this year going from solvent strategy to a UV cure solution, and so they will probably be in a position to significantly decrease their production time simply 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 a lot of clients. That’s very true in states like California, where VOCs are highly regulated, she added.
UV printing’s introduction some dozen years ago exposed printing on a variety of substrates, and UV LED made possible printing by using an even wider selection 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 was quoted saying.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles forward and backward jetting the ink, and it has lamps right and left hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power the printer, the lamps will have to appear to temperature, and when these people were up that you were ready for curing.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t come on and remain on because they did within the traditional process. The lamps last for a longer time-being rated for ten thousand hours-simply because they come off and on. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade with time. You needed to are the cause of the degradation of power in the lamps by providing them a lot more power until you no longer had the strength to gain the required result. With the UV LED lamps, there is not any degradation of power.”
As outlined by a European power study which was conducted using phone case printer and identical inks and substrates, UV LED bulbs used 82 percent less power in comparison to the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
Furthermore operators not have to take into account degradation of the bulb, they no more ought to adjust colour because the bulb degrades.
The result of lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures is definitely the ability to apply heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. Particularly, PSPs can steer clear of the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates exposed to heat.
With UV LED, PSPs get more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less requirement for adjustment over time and reduce energy consumption. As a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste too. They don’t have to deal with color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, the majority is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a mix of UV LED and mercury arc lamps offering faster speed. There’s no limitation on the speed being a byproduct in the curing, and that we are able to perform some interesting things with all the curing finish, creating a matte or gloss effect with how the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated about 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 lots of the labor-intensive steps by printing instantly to most substrates, he stated. “Further, UV LED lamps are more cost-effective simply because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that want to warm-up and stay on whilst in production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes may be under other print technologies, ultimately causing ink cost savings which can 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 will make it attractive to small companies, simply because they don’t have to contract by having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not only for print providers. It can fit into many kinds of firms 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 the Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The corporation will be the North American sales and marketing arm for that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings comes with Screen Americas sister company Inca Digital, which manufacturers the Onset type 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 improve in this respect.
“What it means for the user in the printers is at this time, LED has limitations to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we need to print slower to hit 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 method they can obtain a full cure is always to cure with mercury arc,” he explained. “On the printers which can be LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
An additional benefit for traditional UV is the UV LED lamps are expensive, but market forces are likely to drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too will continue dexjpky07 make an effort to advance inks, endeavoring to widen the sweet spot, and along the way enable faster curing to occur.
“But today, dtg printer cannot keep the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continues to engineer the ideal mixture of technology for speed and quality.”
The cabability to focus more attention on printing and also on new opportunities is amongst the chief features of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider selection 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 carried out in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling an individual to have complete control over quality and delivery,” he said. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print agencies will offer higher-value alternatives that were previously unrealistic on account of technology limitations of costs.”
Enjoying consistent color output and curing energy means operators can focus more on the printing, and fewer about the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns are gone,” he asserts. “They may also buy thinner materials that bring about lower shipping costs and much less expense.”