UV WEB OFFSET -- Future so Bright. . .
Another reason use of the process is growing within these applications is the flexibility that UV curing can provide in printing color combinations on the front and back of the web, asserts Dick Prentice, director of sales and marketing at GSS Printing Equipment in Springboro, OH.
"An eight-color press can produce any color combination from seven-over-one to four-over-four with in-stage UV curing. That isn't practical with other drying systems. UV also provides flexibility in printing and/or coating substrates where heat can be a concern," Prentice says.
When compared to heatset offset, all of the press manufacturers agree that one of the biggest advantages of UV drying/curing is what it doesn't do—release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). That potentially can be a big concern, especially for shops currently not running presses with any type of dryer, says Eric Short, president of RDP Marathon in Laval, Canada. "For those companies, UV definitely is an easier approach to increase their printing quality and move up to coated stocks," Short points out. "Management may not want to deal with the whole process of applying for permits and paying licensing fees, assuming that's even an option."
While Short concedes that UV consumable costs are higher, he says the environmental concerns with the heatset process can offset that advantage, depending on how a printer weights each factor when running the numbers. In addition, Sanden's Justus points out that the capital cost of a UV-equipped web press is significantly less than the price of a comparable heatset web press. The operating speeds of UV presses also are becoming more competitive, he says.
As for competition from faster running sheetfed presses, Muller Martini's Jones says that is where in-line finishing can have a big impact. "It may take longer to makeready a web press but, with in-line finishing, the product coming off the press is much further along in the production chain," he explains. "With a sheetfed press, you are just making ready the printing part of the process. The sheets then have to dry before going through the bindery."