UV Web Printing -- Rays of Opportunity
"We bought the A52 because we were looking for a press that provided additional speed and technology over what we currently had on our floor," Koszuta notes. The new generation of UV presses offers the same advancements that are reducing makereadies and increasing the speed of conventional heatset web configurations. In addition, UV presses are now easier to run and much more productive.
Because UV inks are sensitive to press-generated heat, temperature fluctuations cause them to break down, which affects printability. Today's presses feature full cooling of ink trains and the web itself—so everything is kept at the optimum temperature. Maintaining the temperature in the proper zone has also helped eliminate ink breakdown and all of the problems associated with it.
An additional benefit of a UV web press that many printers may not have considered is the reduced space that it takes up. UV allows for reduced floor-space requirements resulting from the compact size of UV equipment versus the large post-dryers and chill stands.
For Rainbow Graphics, purchasing a web press with UV capabilities was the only direction the company, which specializes in direct mail, could go, explains Koszuta.
In the direct mail market, post-processing is a critical component. UV inks dry instantly, allowing for immediate personalization via laser printers. UV also eliminates web shrinkage caused by the intense heat found in the typical heatset drying process, the result of which can affect the fit between the printed material and the personalized message. Finally, because the UV process does not remove any of the web's moisture, cracking in an off-line folding process becomes much less of an issue than with heatset work.
While UV does offer enormous benefits, the higher cost of UV inks is often cited as a major drawback to running UV. However, Koszuta points out that while ink prices are higher, the overall benefits of UV make up for the cost.