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The Latest Advances in UV Inks, Part II

(June 2010) posted on Wed May 26, 2010

This discussion centers on cost comparisons, challenges with UV inks, and how photoinitiators work.

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By Gail Flower

Scott Schinlever Solvent inks are cheaper on a per-liter basis. UV inks offer higher coverage per square foot, and that evens out the cost. Printing directly on rigid substrates makes it a one-step process. It eliminates one step: mounting the flexible laminate on a substrate. Laminate can be as high as $0.30/sq ft plus production costs, and production is slow.

Steve Mitchell You really do not have energy-consumption costs that are associated with gas driers.

Michael J. Plier From the outside looking in, at first glance, solvent systems appear to have a clear cost advantage, but look closer. Speed, efficiencies, and performance rule. Along with the environmental considerations—VOCs, gas dryers, waste—UV wins all the way.

Grant Shouldice Market prices for UV inks are roughly four to five times that of solvent-based inks, but in general, solvent-based inks used to print packaging applications do not get sold into the same market segments, so it’s not a comparison that happens often.

Bruce Ridge If you compare inks that are made for similar substrates and applications, UV inks cost almost twice as much as solvent-based inks on a per-gallon basis. Then again, UV inks will yield almost twice the mileage per gallon as a comparable solvent-based ink.

Does it take longer to use UV?

Michael J. Plier No Way.

Curt Baskin No, actually it is quicker to use UV inks. Printing with UV inks is typically quicker than conventional inks as no or fewer screen-cleaning stops are required, and curing units can be run at higher speeds than conventional dryers.

Bruce Ridge UV inks speed up the printing process because they cure immediately once exposed to UV light and therefore can be printed, handled, stacked, and finished almost immediately after printing. So printing UV inks takes less time.

Larry Hettinger No. The UV curing process is completed rapidly. There is also less delay when printing multiple colors, and a reduced requirement for secondary operations, such as the stacking and cooling of substrates between colors. Fast curing cuts the time between finishing printing and beginning post-production processes, such as trimming, embossing, or diecutting. It is estimated that printing with UV inks delivers an increase up to 200% in production capacity compared to solvent inks.


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