UV Printing — Horse of a Different Color
"When someone looks at UV, they have to decide which way to go," he says. "We use a hybrid press, and we stay with the same set of hybrid inks. Putting a UV coater on a conventional press isn't UV printing.
"We chose hybrid over full UV for reasons of cost and quality. In our view, a full UV system meant more expensive ink rollers, blankets, etc. On the quality side, we felt that full UV presses don't produce as sharp a dot as hybrid and conventional. With a hybrid press, we maintain the level of quality our customers expect, while offering them more design and stock choices." That said, Murel adds, "We have full interstation UV when we need it."
UV printing represents 35 percent to 40 percent of Color Ink's $34 million in annual sales--a steadily growing percentage, according to Murel. The company prints software boxes, uncoated direct mail, styrene signage and synthetic papers for advertising agencies, retailers, software developers and healthcare entities. Among the options Color Ink already offers its customers is laying down a thicker layer of UV coating with a special plate that gives the coating a textured look.
"Designers like this option because they can create a pattern for the coating, and the pattern is not registered to any particular image on the printed sheet," says Murel. "It gives them another layer of creativity they didn't have before."
Although a UV press typically costs substantially more than a conventional one, it's less expensive to operate a UV press than it used to be, he contends, thanks to UV's instant curing properties and a high level of automation that keeps makereadies to a minimum. One thing that can't be rushed is operator training. "Your press operators have to be very skilled at handling substrates and UV inks. We were fortunate in that we asked for volunteers, and a couple of our pressmen stepped up to the plate."