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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.


How much does ‘Fix it when it’s broke’ truly cost you?

Do you follow the manufacturers recommended maintenance program on your personal vehicle? How often do you change the oil in your car? Is it safe for you or your family to drive on bald tires? Many of us are not driving a $400,000 automobile, so why not schedule the proper maintenance for your UV equipment?

The “We’ll fix it when it’s broke” theory is not the answer for properly maintaining your printing press or its UV equipment. Most of you realize how costly this approach can be, but there are those who tend to be reactive vs. proactive. This is many times driven by the work schedule when the statement has been made, “Skip the maintenance today. This next job is hot.” But then do you ever have the time to get back to it? We have to make the time to fix it, regardless of the non opportune times.

Most printers do not have a full-time maintenance department and must rely on the press crews to perform this task. This means if they are cleaning and greasing, they’re not printing. Don’t look at this time as money lost but as money you have saved with less down time and more production. You know the investment costs of your most valuable asset in the building. Why not take care of it? The press will make you higher profits when it’s operating correctly.

Think about how the UV bulb runs between 1,200 to 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat alone would create additional maintenance items. The sheet only passes under this bulb for less than a second but the transfer cylinders and grippers bars are continuously circling in this area. The good UV equipment manufacturers have done an amazing job at extracting much of the heat with water and exhaust, but the fact still remains—UV machines require more maintenance.

The bulb manufacturers usually guarantee their bulbs to run at 100% efficiency for up to 1,200 hours. At an average price of $550, most people go with the “Change them when needed program.” This works if you are not jeopardizing the integrity of the product you are producing and as long as you have a new spare bulb on the shelf to change out when needed during the middle of that customer OK or pressrun. A reflector cost of $500 each, with cassettes that hold up to 10 reflectors per unit, is another reason to take care of your investment.

The most frequent mistake made is not performing the simple task of cleaning the bulbs and reflectors of any dust or debris before striking the lamps. The trash then becomes etched into the quartz sleeve or reflectors, reducing the output of UV light, the performance and the life expectancy of the unit. And don’t forget the various filters and/or flushing the water system to avoid overheating and melt downs.

The correct approach is to schedule the maintenance as a job. This ensures that it will be done properly and during the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Keeping repairs or replacement costs to a minimum and performance at its fullest should be your main objective. Take care of the tools used to make your living. And most of all, remember that a successful maintenance plan is a “Preventive Maintenance Program.”

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