SHEETFED DRYING/CURING SYSTEMS -- Running Hot and Cold
Even with this reduction in curing units, the required investment and operating costs still can be a barrier to adoption of the hybrid UV process. Nonetheless, Douglas says, "Hybrid inks already are being used on practically everything being printed today."
Bonallo, of technotrans america, says he is seeing signs of the quest for high gloss and rub resistance being overtaken by interest in printing on uncoated substrates. "Everyone knows the challenges in printing on uncoated stocks with conventional inks, varnishes and water-based coatings," he points out. "The high absorbency of inks into the stock means detail and color brightness are lost as the sheet dries, and color hue can also be affected. With hybrid or full UV inks, there's far less absorbency into the stock."
The hottest topic for sheetfed printers today is hybrid UV, agrees Vince Kowalski, vice president of technical sales for Grafix LLC in Burr Ridge, IL. "We have more than 75 customers currently hosting this technology, which has taken most into market segments they only dreamed of serving prior to owning this capability."
Nonetheless, it's important for sheetfed printers to consider all of their options, adds Keith Tap, the company's vice president of operations. "We believe one of the biggest considerations printers face today is which drying/curing approach offers the opportunity to provide the best 'value-added' option to their customers," he explains. "When printers study the options available, they should work through a 'crystal ball' equation: What markets do we serve currently? What markets do we have the potential to serve? And what will we be asked to do next week, next month and next year?"
In order have the greatest flexibility moving forward, Grafix recommends installing an interchangeable system of IR/HAK (infrared/hot air knife) drying and hybrid UV curing, according to Tap.
While drying/curing systems and coating options naturally go hand-in-hand with a new sheetfed press purchase, adding capabilities to an existing machine can also make sense, the various manufacturer reps agree.