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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.

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By Gail Flower

Meek: We haven’t had any trouble with our UV LED printer yet. Some of us have run most kinds of substrates through LED curing because it’s a cool cure. A mercury lamp can warp substrates due to the heat involved.

How durable are UV- and UV LED-cured graphics?
Dziak: We have had some difficulty with certain materials, but that could be an ink-related issue.

Meek: We have not seen a difference between UV and UV LED, but both in general are very durable. We’ve had years of signage outdoors, and the message is stale before the print goes bad. UV LED gets better with every generation of printer. It used to be difficult to make ink adhere to corrugated substrates and on styrene, but now it’s a lot easier.

Williamson: UV-cured graphics hold their color very well over time, even in direct sunlight. These graphics are less susceptible to minor surface scratches, and can be handled immediately after printing. While this ink is compatible with almost any substrate, some materials require priming/prepping to assist with ink adhesion. Without proper prep, the ink can peel away from some materials.

What suppliers say about UV LED
At least one supplier of UV LED has pulled back from the technology. One supplier of UV LED digital printers began selling wide-format equipment in Europe initially, and then decided not to enter into the U.S. market at all. This may be a temporary measure while taking a wait-and-see approach to how users will respond to other available UV LED-based equipment.

However, many suppliers are actively supplying either narrow- or wide-format printers that have UV LED capability including EFI Vutek (GS3250LX), Fujifilm (Acuity LED 1600), INX (NW140, narrow web), Lawson (Express-Jet ASI, narrow web), Mimaki (JFX-1631 plus and JFX 1615 plus), Roland (Versa UV LEJ 640 and LEC 540/LEC 330), Screen USA (Truepress Jet1600 UV-F), and more. Have a look at what some of these manufacturers had to say about UV LED technology.

Is UV LED more effective?
Cutler: UV curing is the most productive method of curing for digital printers. An advantage of LED UV technology is that the LED light mechanism can hit the UV wavelength to cure the ink at a very low temperature—78° F. As a result, you can print on a wide variety of substrates, such as plastics and very thin substrates.


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