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Gapen on UV

Gapen on UV

By Darren Gapen

About Darren

Darren has worked in the printing industry for 30 years and spent more than 12 years at two of the nation's leading high-end commercial printers: Bradley Printing in Des Plaines, IL, and Williamson Printing Corp. in Dallas, TX. During that time, he operated conventional and UV 40˝ sheetfed presses and also successfully managed a $15-million pressroom equipment transition. Darren also was Lead Press Instructor for Heidelberg, where he directed specialty equipment startups and was involved in all aspects of the printing process by teaching both instructor and pressroom employees.

In addition, he served as a troubleshooter for various printing companies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. As operations manager for a start-up specialty folding carton company, he played a key role in achieving more than $6 million in sales within two years. Currently Darren is president of D.G. Print Solutions, a consulting firm that supports printing companies of all sizes. He specializes in growth development planning, pressroom color management and pressroom training through specialty print applications.

 

Don't Make Light of the UV Learning Curve

2
 
Over the years I have run across a number of printers that thought they had everything figured out until their new machine actually went into production. How often does the “AS SEEN ON TV” ad actually come true? Yes, that result was seen somewhere, but sometimes the smoke and mirrors screened the complexity.

There are times when the “DON’T TRY THIS STUNT AT HOME” theory comes into play. Unfortunately, many do not realize what is actually involved when the smoke clears and the lights are turned on. This scenario below, sorry to say, is more common than you could imagine.

The excitement starts when the riggers pull up in the parking lot, the manufacturer’s technicians are onsite with their tool boxes and then the dock doors open. As they start to unload your new printing press and bring it into the building, the camera flashes are going off. The time lapse video camera mounted in the corner above the area where the machine will be installed, continues to run. Knowing how great all of this will look to your customers when your new website launches.

The next few weeks seem to go on forever. The machine is being erected and there are so many outside contractors in the building, they are running into each other. Everyone with constant questions regarding their part of the installation. Your sales group chasing you down to find out when their customer’s job is going to be on the new press and, best of all, the owner asking “When can we start making money with this huge investment?”

You feel confident that you have done all of your homework. You have all of your supplies on hand from various vendors. You hand picked your best crew in the house to run this new machine. You’ve gathered all of the info and attended all of the seminars you could on UV printing. And you believe that when the lights come on, everyone will hit the ground running.

Then it happens; the first few months seem to be a constant struggle. Anything that could go wrong has. You can’t match proofs, some jobs ran off color, you hear the words, “We’re not hitting our estimates!” or “Why do we need more paper?” and you also seem to be spending a great deal more money and not getting the results you’ve expected. The entire time you’re asking yourself, “How do our competitors do this and did they start up with these same issues?”

You have to keep in mind there is a learning curve associated with UV printing. Operating windows on the machine are much smaller and the tolerances are tighter. Many press operators start to question their own ability or get discouraged as things go wrong. Despite what some people will tell you, full UV does not print like conventional printing. Your approach and thinking will have to be different. Keep in mind how important it is to maintain a positive attitude throughout this entire experience and do not let it destroy you. And remember that saying, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”

The learning curve will always be there to some degree. It’s just to what extent and how long will it continue.  There are some great resources out there to make the transition into the UV world as painless as possible. It is a small investment compared to what you have already spent to explore this venture. Also consider the amount of money you could spend if things continue to go sideways.

We are asking all of you to share your experiences and thoughts on this topic. I’m sure many of you will agree with me, and we want to hear from both sides. It will help everyone realize that they’re not alone when it comes to the trials and tribulations of UV printing start ups.

Industry Centers:

2

COMMENTS

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Most Recent Comments:
Scott Brown - Posted on September 28, 2009
"UV - Not for the faint of heart!" This is what I say as a warning to my potential UV customers. That is not meant to scare them away, but just to make sure that everyone understands that there are some challenges and changes in thinking that have to take place when you start printing UV.

That being said, ALL of the UV sheetfed press installations that I have been involved with over the years have been very successful. The UV press becomes the busiest and most profitable press in the building.

The really smart printing salespeople (yes there are some...) figure out quickly how to "convert" a job into a UV job. They show the stunning results of printing UV inks on uncoated stocks or samples of strike-through varnishes as a way of weeding out the competition. In most markets, as soon as the job becomes a UV job, the number of competitors goes from 100 to 5!

In addition to the marketing benefits of UV printing, there are major production gains. While inks, chemistry, and electricity costs are higher, evils such as marking, offset, spray powder, drying time, and off line UV coating are a thing of the past. My belief is that the higher cost of materials are far outweighed by production gains.

So, while there are a host of reasons that both packaging AND commercial printers should be considering UV for their businesses, they should also be prepared for a learning and implementation curve. The best advice that I can give is to get all of the cast members involved prior to investing in the equipment. In addition to your press, ink, fountain solution, blanket, and coating manufacturers, search out a qualified and experienced person to help guide you through the process. You know what they say about pay me now or pay me later....There is no substitute or shortcut for a smooth startup.
STEPHEN FABIAN - Posted on September 18, 2009
I ran a UV press for a few years. My company refurbished an Royal Zenith Planeta from the ground up and dedicated it to all UV. The press was a 6color perfector with grafix uv curing system in units 1-2-3-4-skip 5th and a double in the delivery to cure UV coating.

It was difficult at first i had to learn how to print UV by my self, had no training and a lot of vendors really didn't help much.

I did a lot of research,on problems of printing uv, learning dyne levels of ink and paper, what blankets to use, (certain blanks got embossed so had to change all 6 when starting a new job). What chemicals were compatible, what inks were compatible because we printed on paper board and plastic.

My press crew and i finally got it down to a science.

I think the biggest problem of uv is the cost, of inks chemical and the electricity, (needs a lot of power for those mercury vapor lamps) and heat in the building from the heat extracted from the lamps.

All in all if uv is set up right and have a good crew learning it, it's a wonderful thing.
Just my two cents
Click here to view archived comments...
Archived Comments:
Scott Brown - Posted on September 28, 2009
"UV - Not for the faint of heart!" This is what I say as a warning to my potential UV customers. That is not meant to scare them away, but just to make sure that everyone understands that there are some challenges and changes in thinking that have to take place when you start printing UV.

That being said, ALL of the UV sheetfed press installations that I have been involved with over the years have been very successful. The UV press becomes the busiest and most profitable press in the building.

The really smart printing salespeople (yes there are some...) figure out quickly how to "convert" a job into a UV job. They show the stunning results of printing UV inks on uncoated stocks or samples of strike-through varnishes as a way of weeding out the competition. In most markets, as soon as the job becomes a UV job, the number of competitors goes from 100 to 5!

In addition to the marketing benefits of UV printing, there are major production gains. While inks, chemistry, and electricity costs are higher, evils such as marking, offset, spray powder, drying time, and off line UV coating are a thing of the past. My belief is that the higher cost of materials are far outweighed by production gains.

So, while there are a host of reasons that both packaging AND commercial printers should be considering UV for their businesses, they should also be prepared for a learning and implementation curve. The best advice that I can give is to get all of the cast members involved prior to investing in the equipment. In addition to your press, ink, fountain solution, blanket, and coating manufacturers, search out a qualified and experienced person to help guide you through the process. You know what they say about pay me now or pay me later....There is no substitute or shortcut for a smooth startup.
STEPHEN FABIAN - Posted on September 18, 2009
I ran a UV press for a few years. My company refurbished an Royal Zenith Planeta from the ground up and dedicated it to all UV. The press was a 6color perfector with grafix uv curing system in units 1-2-3-4-skip 5th and a double in the delivery to cure UV coating.

It was difficult at first i had to learn how to print UV by my self, had no training and a lot of vendors really didn't help much.

I did a lot of research,on problems of printing uv, learning dyne levels of ink and paper, what blankets to use, (certain blanks got embossed so had to change all 6 when starting a new job). What chemicals were compatible, what inks were compatible because we printed on paper board and plastic.

My press crew and i finally got it down to a science.

I think the biggest problem of uv is the cost, of inks chemical and the electricity, (needs a lot of power for those mercury vapor lamps) and heat in the building from the heat extracted from the lamps.

All in all if uv is set up right and have a good crew learning it, it's a wonderful thing.
Just my two cents