UV Printing — Horse of a Different Color
o POSTPRESS. To ensure postpress equipment can handle the substrates, printers should work with their ink suppliers to make sure UV coatings are soft and flexible.
o PHYSICAL PLANT. Because UV lamps pull lots of electricity, it's important for printers to make sure they can supply enough power to run them, and that their budget can sustain the corresponding bump. It may be necessary to purchase a dedicated power source. It also doesn't hurt to make sure existing floor pads can bear the added weight of these long, heavy presses, which also should be raised to handle thicker substrates.
UV inks produce no VOCs, which is good for the environment; UV lamps, on the other hand, generate tremendous heat and require extra ventilation to the outside. And, because most UV presses require lamps to be placed at the delivery end of the press, as well as between the printing units, longitudinal space requirements may require knocking down a wall or two.
On balance, however--and balance is the operative word here--printers who have taken the plunge agree that the advantages of UV printing and coating outweigh whatever technical difficulties attend the effort.
If the move to UV printing sometimes feels like a leap of faith, it should not feel like a blind leap into space. The printers we spoke with come across as enthusiastic, inventive, committed--even fearless--but never foolhardy. They understand that sheetfed offset printing today is less about high volume and more about complex work with added value, and they have eagerly embraced this new opportunity to provide their customers with printed products that snap, crackle and pop their way to differentiation.
If UV technology has narrowed the gap between what designers can design and what printers can print, and the economics continue to adjust, it won't be long before this "emerging market" goes mainstream in a big way. PI