UV technology, both traditional UV and UV LED, offers a great many advantages for print agencies. And this includes are many tangible benefits that enable shops to parlay greater flexibility, a wider array of capabilities minimizing materials, energy and labor costs into new opportunities to make money.
When Jay Roberts, Irvine, CA-based Roland DGA product manager, latte coffee printer, thinks of advantages of 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 was quoted saying.
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 actually capable to accept short-run print jobs as well as long-run assignments, dramatically growing online business offerings and profits.
The cabability 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. Capacity to “keep all this under one roof” is a big value for production, he was quoted saying.
“Smaller PSPs are employing UV printing technology to boost output and much better fulfill the requirements the short-run market,” he added. “When built with flatbed and hybrid UV printers, these shops have already been capable of capture jobs that larger print operations may deem too small to consider. For the smaller shop, the opportunity to accept such jobs can significantly impact the conclusion.”
While there’s a threshold from what could be produced on these products, 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 types 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 will print on wood, plastic and metals as much as six inches thick, and weighing around 220 pounds,” he stated. “Heck, we can even print on cowbells.”
Increasing quantities of PSPs are producing package prototypes for graphic design firms and also other clients, although design firms are printing prototypes on their own on-site, he explained.
From the 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 it allows PSPs to transform around projects faster, since their printing cures once it comes down from the press. “We were talking with a buyer this current year going from solvent means to fix a UV cure solution, and they also are going to be able to significantly decrease their production time mainly because they can immediately finish the item,” McConnell said.
Moreover, from an environmental standpoint, the absence of 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 ago opened printing on a selection 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 has always been an issue with traditional UV, and it also was solved with the roll-out of UV LED,” he stated.
“In traditional UV curing, the carriage shuttles to and fro jetting the ink, and it has lamps left and right hidden behind shutters that open in accordance with the UV process.
“The operator would power in the printer, the lamps would be required to appear to temperature, and when these people were up you had been ready to treat.
“With UV LED, the lamps don’t happen and remain on while they did within the traditional process. The lamps last for a longer time-being rated for 10,000 hours-simply because they come on and off. Also, the bulbs in traditional UV degrade over time. You needed to make up the degradation of power of the lamps by providing them a lot more power until you will no longer had the ability to get the desired result. Using the UV LED lamps, there is no 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 the traditional UV bulbs, he reported.
In addition operators not have to take into account degradation in the bulb, they no more ought to adjust the color because the bulb degrades.
Caused by lowered power consumption and lowered temperatures will be the ability to utilize heat-sensitive substrates, Roden said. In particular, PSPs can prevent the rippling effects that plague thin plastic substrates in contact with heat.
With UV LED, PSPs gain more printable substrates, take away the heat, enjoy more productivity, endure less desire for adjustment after a while and reduce energy consumption. Like a green byproduct, PSPs reduce waste as well. They don’t have to deal with color shift or materials melting underneath the lamps.
“Of our UV cured portfolio, most is LED,” Goodearl said.
“Our fastest machine, the HS product, has a variety of UV LED and mercury arc lamps which provide faster speed. There’s no limitation about the speed like a byproduct in the curing, and that we have the ability to carry out some interesting things together with the curing finish, building a matte or gloss effect with the way the cure is varied.
“Curing is initiated on the UV LED and finished on mercury arc process.”
Cost benefits 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 a lot of the labor-intensive steps by printing instantly to most substrates, he explained. “Further, UV LED lamps are definitely more inexpensive mainly because they use less energy than older mercury vapor lamps that require to heat up and remain on during production,” he reported. “Total ink volumes can be below other print technologies, leading to ink cost benefits that can help a store offer more competitive pricing and realize improved margins.”
Roden also touted cost, as well as space, savings like a UV LED benefit. One of several products from Fujifilm may be the Aquity LED 1600, a UV LED machine that operates on a 110-volt power source. “That causes it to be appealing to small businesses, simply because they don’t must contract by having an electrician to implement the newest press,” she said. “It’s not just for print providers. It can match many kinds of companies 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 that Americas and wide-format product manager with Rolling Meadows, IL-based Screen Americas.
The company may be the North American sales and marketing arm for that Graphic and Precision Product Group for Screen Holdings. Screen Holdings includes 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 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 boost in this way.
“What that means for your user from the printers is at the moment, LED is limited to slower printers,” Schlimme said. “Because that sweet spot might be a narrower, we have to print slower hitting that sweet spot.”
He was quoted saying 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 could get a full cure is usually to cure with mercury arc,” he was quoted saying. “On the printers that are LED only, there’s difficulty maintaining faster speeds and obtaining a sufficient cure.”
Another advantage for traditional UV may be the UV LED lamps are now extremely expensive, but market forces may very well drive that cost down, Schlimme said. Ink manufacturers too continue dexjpky07 make an effort to advance inks, attempting to widen the sweet spot, and in the process enable faster curing to happen.
“But today, t-shirt printer cannot support the higher speeds required of production-class printers,” he added. “Screen and Inca continue to engineer the very best combination of technology for speed and quality.”
The ability to focus more attention on printing and so on new opportunities is among the chief benefits of UV LED technology, experts say. VanHorn noted the wider variety of substrates available allow PSPs to search for new markets.
“For example, things that were previously outsourced because materials were too delicate for hot lamp curing can be completed in house, securing all revenue and margin for your job, enabling the user to get complete power over quality and delivery,” he was quoted saying. “Since the plethora of substrates is virtually unlimited, print service providers can provide higher-value alternatives that have 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 less about the tweaking of color or lamp power, added Goodearl. “Those concerns have left,” he asserts. “They could also buy thinner materials that result in lower shipping costs and fewer expense.”