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The Environmental Aspects of UV Screen Inks: Past, Present, and Future

(December 2007) posted on Thu Jan 03, 2008

If developing a sustainable graphics-printing process is a goal for your business, consider how the latest generation of UV-curable screen inks can help. This discussion looks at the history of UV inks, recent ink-formulation developments, and ways you can increase productivity while helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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By Laura Maybaum

Most UV inks require only one lamp to cure when the lamp provides sufficient output. Many printers use a second lamp to overcome deficiencies in the UV output of one lamp. Only in specialized applications will a second lamp benefit the printer and then only marginally. By using a faster curing ink and maintaining the UV cure station’s bulb and reflector, a shop should be able to achieve the proper amount of cure with a single lamp. This not only saves significant energy but also provides hidden savings. A printer not only saves in energy consumption (reducing emissions) but also reduces the number of mercury-vapor bulbs that will need replacement over time.

Denser halftone colors in a UV ink have allowed screen printing to provide saturated color reproduction, even when printing a low ink deposit. Dense colors also provide, in essence, concentrated colors. Printers can purchase dense colors and use a base to reduce density on site. With a computercontrolled color-mixing system, matching density required per print job can be achieved very quickly; in addition, waste ink can be input back into inventory and reused on future jobs.

A color-mixing system paired with an automatic dispensing system and shaker can allow printers to mix up enough ink to start a print job and hit the appropriate color. With production ready to go, the ink mixer can quickly produce just enough ink for the job to be run. A mix-on-demand system with very little waste ink at the end of a job increases efficiency by reducing issues surrounding inventory, such as aging excess ink.

Multipurpose inks allow for a minimal number of ink series to be used on a wide range of substrates. The first savings is related again to inventory issues. Each ink series typically needs to have inventoried halftones colors (extender base, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) along with mixing colors (used to match specialized colors) and some additional, high-volume colors such as white, black, red, etc., for about 25 colors per ink line. The use of multipurpose inks can cut down on the amount of gallons in inventory. There are additional benefits to multipurpose inks:

• less waste due to the same ink being used on multiple jobs

• less potential mistakes of putting the wrong ink on the wrong substrate, reducing scrap and reprinting



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