The first UV inks at drupa 1976 versus LED UV at drupa 2016

Mercury 220px-MV_Lamp_175_WDuring drupa 1976 I looked at things with different eyes. I had just started studying for my teacher certificate print technology and I was writing a paper about inks. I visited all known ink manufacturers, from the famous market leader K&E to Dutch pride Royal van Son. Inks had started a quiet revolution. Manufacturers made inks with new pigments which resulted in much better colours. The inks dried much faster and were suitable for more types of paper and cardboard. The most remarkable of drupa 1976 for me was my initiation into UV inks. Thanks to the energy of mercury lamps these inks dried superfast. At that time UV curing was only used in rotation presses, but with the start of Gerhard Metz´s  company IST-Metz in 1977 UV curing developed with the breakthrough results we can expect at drupa 2016.


UV LED curing at drupa 2016
LED-1055-015-UVUV curing will have a prominent place at drupa 2016. Various systems, from ….. to super format inkjet printers will make use of the ample experience with this curing technology our industry has, more than 40 years. Thanks to the invention of light emitting diodes, LEDs, we now have a cost effective and controllable energy source to cure inks fast and without warmth. That is however not an easy process. Many factors influence the the quality of the curing as well as of the actual print. The distance between the LED and the media is important, as well as the composition of the suitable inks. More information about UV curing in general and specifically LED can be found in RadTech´s whitepaper which can be downloaded from our downloads page. RadTech International is an organisation of companies dedicated to UV and electron beam curing systems.


UV LED for offset on demand
RYOBI 920-uvFollowing the UV LED for sheet offset presses by pioneer Ryobi, many of the larger manufacturers will show their offset presses with UV LED curing at drupa. Not just the small or mid size format presses. We do not yet know if KBA will show its Rapida 145, the first large format press with UV LED curing, is not known yet. MAN with its Roland 700 HiPrint and Heidelberg with its Speedmaster XL106 will emphasise the UV LED breakthrough. UV LED curing, in combination with short make ready times, give printers the possibility to be competitive in small jobs. Digital printing technology as a kind of offset on demand. And if these printers have a good workflow, the choice between offset and digital is a simple one, based on price and production time. Offset still has the advantage with jobs of more than 300 prints, especially on the 70x100cm presses which are able to very efficiently combine different jobs. Something which internet printers prove on a daily basis.


Production inkjet and UV LED

Mimaki UV at FESPA-55From the very first prototypes shown at drupa, production inkjet printers used UV LED for an efficient curing. Inkjet production printer manufacturers could incorporate UV LED in their designs and ink formulas could be adjusted to the requirements. The higher energy efficiency of UV LED curing in combination with environmentally friendly water-based inks made very attractive for the new print technology. Technology where measuring and managing the complete process is incorporated into the actual presses. We could say that press operators are no longer real printers. However, expertise in the visual aspects of a print, knowledge about which paper or other media to use and management of the automated process is definitely as difficult as using a traditional offset press. Even taking into account the UV LED solution.
So, this year at drupa 2016, try to look at these digital print monsters from a different perspective.

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Rob van den Braak

Printer’s devil (1964), phototypesetter, offsetprinter, teacher of graphic techniques, salesmanager, productmanager, trade journalist, founder of BlokBoek e-zine (2011). But above all husband, father, friend and lover of life in southern Spain (since 2010).

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