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Perspectives on UV LED Curing

(April 2013) posted on Tue May 07, 2013

This roundtable discussion focuses on UV inkjet printing and the emergence and impact of UV LED technology.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Gail Flower

Meek: The LED lamps are warranted for three years, and we’ve only had our UV LED equipment for 15 months, so we’re still on the same lamps. We replace standard mercury bulbs every two months—anywhere from six to eight weeks—on a bulb that is rated to last 1000 hours. By adding LED, the life is predicted to be three years, and LEDs don’t degrade over time but simply run or not (on/off). When we do replace our lamps, we may need a technician to do it. That would be the only disadvantage.

Williamson: The UV lamps will last for a few hundred hours, typically, before needing replacement. If a lamp goes out, you have to replace it before your printer will be operational again, so you need to keep an extra set on hand.

Has UV and UV LED met your expectations?
Dziak: So far, with UV yes.

Meek: Yes with UV LED, and it has actually surpassed some of them (Figure 4). For instance, we don’t get the tire tracking or gloss banding when using UV LED curing. With LED, the image prints smoothly. We’re happy to say goodbye to tire tracking.

What types of wide-format graphics do you print?
Williamson: With our UV printers we print interior and exterior signage, wall murals (Figure 5), vehicle graphics, P-O-P, retail, trade show graphics, fabric, concrete graphics, and more.

Dziak: With our UV we print graphics of all kinds including architectural interior graphics and a comprehensive list of signage.

Meek: We are a digital printing company. With our UV LED printer we print P-O-P and retail graphics on digital printers. Our focus is retail.

What about print speed with UV LED vs. conventional UV lamps?
Meek: I think that the speed of mercury and UV LED curing is close. The UV LED may run 10% faster, as some indicate, but I find that it’s comparable.

Dziak: The speed of UV is nearly twice that of the first generation of lamps, plus you can vary the curing path to eliminate curing bands.

Would you please comment about successes and failures with UV or UV LED?
Dziak: We can now do a much higher quality output with UV and sell the product at a higher cost for that kind of quality.


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