Over the past several years, printers have invested in improved inks that yield vibrant colors, improved performance and increased savings. But what good would these advances be if you’re tapping your toes waiting for the ink to dry?
Numerous advances in drying/curing translate into smaller footprints, accelerated production speeds and lower energy costs, all of which do well for your bottom line.
Plug-and-chug technology“A UV system can change your whole business,” asserts Stephen Metcalf, president and chief executive officer of Air Motion Systems. In that vein, the company designed the Peak 3 UV Web to function as part of the press-not as an accessory-changing the way printers approach ultraviolet.
“With the Peak 3 UV Web, we don’t have to reinvent a whole UV system’s module for every press, make and manufacturer that’s out there,” says Metcalf. Each unit has a common set of parts and is essentially custom-cut to the length a printer requires.
“With our system, you can buy less capital equipment and have the flexibility to move it around where you need it,” says Metcalf. “It requires no tools at all to make those changes.”
Reliable and ruggedIn UV’s developing years, there was an attitude that a good UV curing system would last maybe half as long as the press while the majority of systems would break down after two or three years. Recent developments, though, may help a UV system outlive the printing press.
“An important feature in a UV system is the shutter function, which shutters the lamp when the press is in a standby mode,” explains Metcalf. “We’ve engineered an almost undefeatable shutter mechanism that just works, works and works. It extends the useful service life and running life of these systems.”
Try as they might, today’s engineers simply can’t design an invincible, failsafe system, and inline failures (and subsequent downtime) will happen. PowerSmart, the newest drying product marketed under Mark Andy’s UVT banner, offers a self-diagnostic feature to help reduce your downtime.
“The UVT PowerSmart system is able to self-diagnose system issues and notifies the operator of the specific issue,” says Jeff Feltz, director of product management at Mark Andy. “The customer can maintain the system if necessary by replacing the electronic ballast. If additional assistance is required, the system can be accessed remotely by a service technician and further diagnosed.”
Easy on the energyFor years, one of the primary objections to UV drying units concerned the massive amounts of energy required to operate. United Kingdom-based GEW UV Inc. solved this problem by developing the e-Brick lamp control and power supply. Traditionally, input energy is stepped up using ballasts or transformers. “With the e-Brick, we can rectify the voltage electronically, eliminating the need for transformers and ballasts,” says Brian Wenger, president of GEW Inc., GEW UV’s American interest.
By altering the wave electronically, the e-Brick generates a constant and much more efficient square wave to operate at 380 to 480 volts, 50 to 60 Hz. Because the UV’s lamp output depends on the magnitude of the input voltage, the e-Brick allows users to do more with less. “We will save the user 30% on the electric cost over that of a transformer- or ballast-driven system,” explains Wenger. “They will also enjoy 20% more UV output with the same input power.”
Increasing throughputLast year, the Food and Drug Administration approved UV chemistries for use in direct food packaging and it wasn't much later that Prime UV introduced its Perfect-Cure UV lamp system to food packaging converters and printers, says Elinor Midlik, president of Prime UV.
“Engineered specifically for installation on [central impression] CI flexo presses running flexible films, Prime UV’s new Perfect-Cure UV lamp system guarantees complete cure of UV inks and coatings at speeds over 2,000 feet per minute,” says Midlik. The key to this high throughput, explains Midlik, is the company's Smart 2100 computer control, which provides exceptional system operation and a direct diagnostic link to Prime UV's factory.
Looking at your current curing system, which advancements in portability, reliability, energy consumption and production speeds can you leverage?
Air Motion Systems
Web Exclusive: The best is yet to come?Air Motion Systems, developer of the popular Peak UV web drying/curing line, claims to be an innovator and leading manufacturer in the UV arena…and they can prove it, too.
“We’re so interested in the application of UV in printing and we realized there wasn’t a conference,” says Stephen Metcalf, president and chief executive officer of Air Motion Systems. “So we started a conference and we actually have an association: the Print UV Association. [In March], we’re going have the second annual Print UV Conference in Las Vegas.” [Print UV 2009 is March 8–10 at the Wynn Encore Las Vegas. Visit www.printuv.com for further details.]
The two-day event will cover several aspects of UV technology, but of particular interest is what cutting-edge technology in the UV landscape will look like five and ten years out.
“One of the areas that’s of interest to a lot of UV practitioners and printers is the development of electronic power supplies or digital power supplies and the further development of LED (light emitting diodes) to generate the UV light,” explains Metcalf. “You’re not going to see a lot of product commercialized in the next year, but the pace at which they’re developing these semiconductor LEDs is actually growing very quickly. And it’s a very interesting way to generate the light because you can tailor the wavelengths to exactly the chromacity you want to be at. There’s even more energy savings that go into LEDs, in some cases, twice as efficient.”