Sheetfed UV Printing: UV Provides Cure for Many

Haig Atamian, owner of Haig’s Quality Printing, relies on his Mitsubishi UV press to meet the reproduction and turnaround time demands of Las Vegas’ entertainment industry.

Bruce Evins, first pressman at Dallas-based Blanks Printing, pulls a sheet from the shop’s Heidelberg Speedmaster UV press.

Ah, but the velvet rope comes at a steep price. The cost of a UV press is considerably higher than a conventional one. Ditto for inks, coatings and chemistry. Certain substrates have a higher out-of-pocket cost.

And challenging…if your press operators don’t mind the learning curve that’s necessary to perfect the UV printing craft. Of course it’s hard. There’s a line from the movie “A League of Their Own,” in which Tom Hanks’ character essentially spells out the difference between “why?” and “why not?” people: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great.”

No need to convince Kevin Schrader of that philosophy. The vice president of operations at Dallas-based Blanks Printing & Imaging has been doing UV printing for the past two years for commercial customers, primarily agencies and major retailers. Plastics, folding cartons and direct mail are the three top UV products for Blanks.

Since Blanks began life as a prepress house, color management is near and dear to the company’s heart, and plastics call for an abundance of profiling and plate curves. It’s especially important, he notes, when a UV piece is married to a conventional piece.

“One advantage we had from the start was in having several people in our shop with UV experience,” Schrader says. “I’d hate to do it from scratch. Myself, the pressroom manager and vice president of sales all had worked previously at a UV shop. But, for all our pressmen, it was OJT (on-the-job training).

“We maintain a good rapport with Heidelberg, and got a lot of assistance from them. We were able to draw upon their experience with what they saw at other plants.”

During the first year operating its six-color Speedmaster XL 105 with UV capabilities, Blanks secured more than $4 million in new work that it otherwise would not have generated with exclusively conventional gear. Naturally, the printer proudly promotes its UV arsenal. Formerly, homemade cookies were used by salespeople for face-to-face meetings with clients. Now, Blanks produces cookie boxes that showcase different UV techniques, and they tend to enjoy strong desk time with customers.

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