The Look of Glass: Getting Smooth, Clear UV Coating Again!

With every year that passes, I sound more and more like my father while having discussions with my three daughters. I start sentences with the phrase: “When I was younger…” Or, use the expression “good old days” just as he used to say when I was growing up.

Professionally, I’ve been feeling nostalgic when it comes to the smooth, deep look of UV coating. Back in the day, when I first became involved with UV printing, we had a press with a two-roller coating system. These systems allowed the pressman to apply as much coating as needed for the job. The two- and three-roller coating systems also made the coating look as deep and smooth as a sheet of glass.

Then it all changed with the introduction of the new closed-chamber, anilox style coating units. They were sold by the OEMs as “pressman proof.” They enabled management to have the ability to make sure that all of the pressmen apply the same amount of coating regardless of the individual or knowledge level.

How many of you are familiar with the term microfoaming or microbubbles? This is the direct result of air being trapped in a roller’s empty cell as it attempts to refill with UV coating. This inhibits the coating from laying even on the sheet without pin holes in the surface.

This condition appears instantly with some coating systems as the unit goes on impression and the press speeds up. You have no choice but to either run with these imperfections, add leveling agents to the coating to assist with reducing the foaming issues, or as the surface degenerates, change the barrel of coating out prematurely to a new barrel while setting the foamed up coating aside until the tiny bubbles dissipate.

Back in the spring, I had another opportunity to write up the specifications of a new printing press that we equipped for my customer’s needs. Having the ability to use vendors for the auxiliary equipment that I have had the most experience and success with, I reached far outside the box.

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.

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  • http://jeffHernandez jeff Hernandez

    Hi Darren,

    Interesting article. Can you please send me some samples off this press. I’m dying to see what I have been missing all these years. As you know, I am always in pursuit of perfection and would like a bench mark to aspire too. Once again your setting the bar for the press manufactures this is awesome.

    Thank you,
    Jeff H

  • http://RayFischer Ray Fischer

    Great story! You definitely showed that your an independent thinker and a problem solver. Sometimes we put to much confidence in manufacturers who you would think would be on the cutting edge.

  • http://ScottGorman Scott Gorman

    Great article Darren. I would love to know some more specifics about the type of equipment you spec’d for this press. Microfoaming can be quite a challenge.


  • http://Rocco Rocco

    Nice story Darren, on the subject of coating application and problems that may and do occur. When you have time drop me an email so we can talk more about the equipment being used in this article. I’d appreciate it.


  • http://DarrenGapen Darren Gapen


    I do appreciate the support conveyed and I am truly pleased with the coating results that we achieved.

    However, please keep in mind this was no disrespect to the press manufacturer what so ever. They were very open to the specifications requested and most accommodating to do so. They respected the client’s wishes and went the extra mile to fulfill their needs.

    Thank you again,
    Darren Gapen

  • http://NickBruno Nick Bruno

    While the “good old days” of roller coaters had some success, they were also marred by inconsistency, orange peel and slinging. The OEMs did not ram chamber/anilox systems onto printers. Rather, it was the printers who demanded these systems due to obvious benefits. What printer can achieve on coaters today was inconceivable 10 years ago.

    While I am sure that you have your share of success stories, I feel that this forum is not the place to promote your services and products.

    Nick Bruno

  • http://darrenGapen darren Gapen

    Dear Nick,

    Obviously you’re reading more into my blog than intended. There was no disrespect to the OEMs what so ever.

    FYI. I don’t sell products. I make recommendations based on my experience and what I have witnessed firsthand throughout over 30 years in this business.

    I’m glad to see you’re as passionate about your business as I am, but it’s not about you or me. It’s about the customer and his needs.

    After all, isn’t that our goal?

    My customer made the choice to purchase a coating unit installed on his new machine that would give him the best possible results available in all coating applications and without additional costs incurred in the future.

    Please understand that it’s hard to argue the fact of outstanding results and remember don’t shoot the messenger.

  • http://VerneDye Verne Dye

    An opportunity is at hand. If there are best ways to do something, the OEM that provides that to the new user will come out ahead. Afterall the knowledge is somewhere. The OEM that gos beyond the sale will do just whay Darren said, “It’s about the customer and his needs.”

  • http://RobTaraboletti Rob Taraboletti

    What type of equipment are you talking about? I would love to learn more about it. We have a closed anilox system and are hampered at times by its limitations.

  • http://RohitMadan Rohit Madan

    Which are the companies you would recommend who can offer such UV-coatings? We are presently working with actega-terra in Germany !

  • http://DarrenGapen Darren Gapen

    If anyone would like more information on the products used in this article, please feel free to contact me at

    Thank you,
    Darren Gapen