UV WEB OFFSET -- Future so Bright. . .
BY MARK SMITH
UV web offset press operators may not have to wear shades, but the outlook for the market segment is upbeat. By incorporating this drying/curing process, press manufacturers have enhanced the capability of half- and narrow-web machines to compete for commercial printing work. Delivering a dry print affords greater flexibility in finishing operations, while the application of a coating can enhance the appearance of a piece. At the same time, the UV process has gotten easier to use.
"Every web press Muller Martini has sold in the past two years included a UV dryer," observes Fred Jones, press division manager for the Hauppauge, NY-based equipment manufacturer. "The main benefits are in processing times and elimination of marking. With UV curing, you can immediately handle the piece and do post-processing.
"People tend to think that heatset offset is easier to run, but that's just because they are familiar with the process. UV technology has gotten much easier, and the components easily fit into the press line," Jones continues.
Douglas Justus, president of Sanden USA in Herndon, VA, reports there has been a significant migration toward the use of the UV process in the direct mail and commercial markets due to the increased demand for personalization. "This process requires that a fully dried, hard-finish product be delivered in sheet, folded, or roll form for post-processing by laser printers," he points out. "UV provides that."
In-line variable-data printing also is a factor in this arena, points out Michael Aumann, director of sales and marketing at Brandtjen & Kluge in St. Croix Falls, WI. "The new UV ink-jet printing technology is interesting because it can be used on a wide range of substrates. The web immediately goes through a UV lamp to set the ink." Aumann says Kluge web press configurations often include an in-line variable-data system from Digital Print in Fort Worth, TX. He likes the system's flexibility, noting it can accept data from a variety of sources and drive four different printing technologies on the back end—UV ink-jet, electron beam imaging, traditional ink-jet and hot-melt.