UV Printing — Horse of a Different Color
Depending on how much UV a company runs, a hybrid press also may require switching blankets when alternating between conventional and UV inks, or conditioning the ink rollers to accept UV--steps that can lengthen the typical makeready by an hour or more. New consumables, such as Bottcher Chameleon dual-purpose blankets and rollers, reportedly can be used with both UV and conventional inks. Hybrid technology can also be used for plastic, but a full UV press can probably print on a wider range of substrates.
Color Ink, Sussex, WI, began printing UV when it installed the first of two UV-equipped presses, a six-color KBA Rapida with in-line UV and aqueous coating--on September 12, 2001, the day after the World Trade Center collapsed and just prior to the downturn that propelled the U.S. economy into recession. That press, says company President Tom Murel, "gave us the ability to keep our heads above water and expand our throughput with UV-printed products."
The second press, a six-color Komori LS40 with in-line UV and aqueous coating, was installed in May. "Having this capability gives us national recognition," notes Murel. "It's not just another 40? press."
In the beginning, Color Ink positioned itself to take advantage of an emerging market and began moving toward higher-end products using plastics, including packaging and signage. At the time, he says, "We had customers that wanted to do plastic on a conventional press, but that way is fraught with problems. There's no competition between printing on plastic with UV and printing plastic on a conventional press. UV is the superior technology, hands down."
Murel admits the transition to UV was expensive and the learning curve steep. "But the presses were a benefit to our business as soon as we switched them on." He also draws a distinction between full UV and hybrid UV, the latter of which is Color Ink's choice.