UV Printing — Seeing the (UV) Light
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.
"Companies are always looking to differentiate themselves, especially in the retail area," explains Mike McLaughlin, Challenge's director of production. "The greater variety of substrates and effects that can be run on UV equipment is appealing to savvy print buyers and marketers."
Over the years, Challenge Printing has tried a variety of UV inks (Wikoff, Central Ink, Sun Chemical, Kohl & Madden) in an effort to find the most effective solution for the various substrates it has run, McLaughlin points out. Its current UV pressroom consists of six- and seven-color Heidelberg presses equipped with IST/Technotrans UV systems. Approximately 15 percent of Challenge's printing business now includes UV work.
"As with any new equipment or technology, there is a learning curve," McLaughlin admits. "We have both management and operators on staff that had previous UV printing experience, and we also hired other experienced operators as the business expanded."
Challenge runs a variety of plastic substrates used as signage in back-lit menu boards. It also produces a large volume of static cling, diecut danglers and lenticular work for use in POP applications. Another growing area of Challenge's UV business is in the gift card/direct mail market, McLaughlin reveals.