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UV Printing -- Seeing the (UV) Light

November 2004
by chris Bauer

Managing Editor

Many printers report seeing the demand for UV offset printing continue to rise—a bright light in a sometimes gloomy commercial printing landscape. One reason given by printers for this trend is the growing desire of print buyers and designers to create high-end consumer packaging, displays and marketing materials. This change in marketing approach by print buyers has had an effect on printed materials, causing a need to provide high-quality results.

UV printing is opening up new doors for commercial printers. When it comes to intangibles such as gloss, feel, protective qualities and scuff resistance, UV-printed products are often seen as a superior alternative to traditionally printed products.

One company that has stepped through the door and into the UV market is Color Ink of Sussex, WI. Upon noticing that the traditional print market was eroding about four years ago, Color Ink wanted to move into the packaging and plastics market to expand its services.

The POP/POS area has a higher demand to print on plastics, and Color Ink made this an area of focus. And UV coating opened different markets that traditional printing wasn't capable of handling. Today, about 50 percent of the company's work is done using the UV process.

A Tough Transition

However, the transition to UV printing was not an easy one, recalls Tom Murel, executive vice president of Color Ink. "This has been a four-year learning curve for manufacturers, as well as printers," assesses Murel.

In 2004, ink sets and coating developments are changing to match the wide array of substrates offered, he explains. Color Ink is in the process of certifying all products and testing them while they are on-press. The goal is to tighten the spectrum of ink choices given by the ink manufacturer.

Color Ink has worked closely with both press manufacturer KBA North America and Flint Ink in testing and developing its usage of the process. It uses a Graphix interdeck dryer system for all UV processes.

KBA has spent a considerable amount of time at the Sussex headquarters testing inks and substrates to maximize the results, Murel notes. Color Ink also has an in-house ink lab through Flint Ink to guarantee color quality on the presses. The ink lab is equipped to mix both traditional and UV ink sets onsite, which were previously sent out to another facility to be processed.

Another printer that felt the future of commercial printing work leveling off is Challenge Printing in Eden Prairie, MN. Five years ago the company was looking for a new market segment that would help it diversify and become a more valuable supplier to its customers. UV printing fit that criteria.


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