Three reasons to consider UV-curable technology instead of solvent
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By Udi Nachmany, HP Scitex WW aftermarket business manager
1 March 2011
1) Because they're easier and cheaper to manage from an environmental standpoint
With solvent-based systems, complying with the regulations governing the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be expensive and time consuming. These environmental, health, and safety regulations relate to worker exposure to chemical emissions and to material handling, use, storage, and disposal.
UV-curable inks can either have a solvent-diluted or a 100 percent-solids formulation. The latter type (for example HP UV-curable inks) do not contain any solvents and almost all the ink printed onto the print medium converts into a solid without very little material loss to evaporation. Hence, these inks have significantly lower environmental, health, and safety issues compared to conventional solvent-based inks and UV-curable inks diluted with organic solvents.
2) Because they increase your productivity and reduce your production costs
UV printing offers several productivity and cost advantages:
- Fast UV-curing enables UV printers to work at much higher speeds than solvent printers
- Lack of need for power-hungry drying equipment saves time, as well as saving floor space requirements and reducing capital investment and energy costs
- Reduced ink consumption of UV inks results in significant cost savings. Ink consumption can be further reduced with special curing techniques, available on selected UV printers such as the HP Scitex XP2300 and XP5300 printers, that allow for the ink drops to spread further
- For rigid applications, using direct-to-rigid UV printing eliminates mounting time and costs
3) Because they enhance your offering in terms of versatility and image quality
UV-curable inks can open up new applications and improve return on capital investment. They can be used with almost any type of conventional media plus exotic substrates. Some UV printers offer versatile media handling suitable for both rigid and rolled media, enabling easy changes between applications while improving utilisation of your printing equipment.
With UV printing systems, you can improve image quality over solvent-based systems, while matching or improving on production speeds and costs. Unlike solvent printing systems, which are mostly designed for outdoor applications, UV-curable inks and printing systems are engineered for indoor applications, which typically have shorter viewing distances than outdoor prints. In addition, UV printers typically have more precise printing with minimal dot spread, feathering, and ink penetration into absorbent media, which is good for sharp lines and edges and repeatable dot properties for colour half-toning algorithms.
UV-curable inks are particularly strong in single-sheet (for example woven polyethylene) billboards, and retail graphics, but in the past two years we have seen them successfully penetrate areas such as speciality and vehicle graphics as well.
However, not all UV-curable inks are created equal: there can be significant differences between similar types of UV-curable inks depending on how they are developed and manufactured, which can significantly affect print quality, durability, and cost as well as printer efficiency. Look for UV-curable inks that are dedicated to the printer; manufactured according to strict environmental, health and safety (EHS) policies; low on hazardous chemicals, and manufactured in standards-certified facilities.
Resident Talk Print! bloggers Sophie Matthews-Paul and Laurel Brunner have also replied to the topic Why should I consider UV-curable technology instead of solvent? What do you think? Use the comments form below to give your opinion.
Comments in chronological order (Total 2 comments)
10 July 2012 8:31PM
I work with a UV-curable printer and am having a horrible time trying to dispose of the leftover and waste ink. No local places will take that much ink. AND, contrary to the opinion of my boss, THEY ARE hazardous to the environment. HP doesn't even have disposal info on their own inks. Other printing places have suggested that I fill a bucket with kitty litter and let it absorb the ink, then throw it away. This can't be right. The MSDS clearly says they are bad but no one has disposal info. The owner of this company wants me to throw it in our dumpster! They won't even buy me a bucket! What's a girl to do?!
15 August 2012 11:00AM
Hey Signgirl - couldn't help but notice your comment and I'm sorry for not coming back to you sooner. Can you contact me privately (james at outputmagazine dot com) and let me know which manufacturer you're talking about here? Also, are you a member of any associations? They might be able to advise or represent you at a higher level than the standard after-sales response. I think this is an important issue and would be glad to investigate further for you. -J