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Oct 1, 2005 12:00 AM


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Pressroom

PRINT 05 featured a plethora of new hybrid and UV options for practically every size and type of press. Several small-format UV presses could be seen, including KBA’s 20-inch Genius 52 UV.

Ryobi showed a half-size, eight-color press with perfecting and UV curing from AdPhos/Eltosch, as well as a new DI press using hybrid UV inks. “The 758P ran all UV with an interdeck curing unit above the perfector and no coater,” reports Tim Kirby, national sales manager, xpedx Printing Technologies (Lenexa, KS). “The 755 was shown as a five-color press with a UV coater, employing an interdeck dryer at the fifth unit and a UV curing unit post-coater.” Kirby says the chemical embossed printing was flawless and a real attention-getter at the booth.

UV drying equipment from AdPhos/Eltosch also could be found on Muller Martini’s Concepta variable-size web press equipped with Kodak’s Versamark continuous inkjet printing systems. AdPhos/Eltosch’s near infrared (NIR) can be used with continuous, piezo or thermal inkjet using glycol or water-based coatings. “It has better penetrating capabilities than the standard infrared and hot-air dryers,” says Domenic DiRenzo. “Our NIR dryers can be integrated with sheetfed or web solutions in 1-inch increments for addressing and personalization applications.”

A selection of key PRINT 05 hybrid/UV introductions follows.



Nordson Corp.’s (Amherst, OH) QuadCure system combines high UV output needed for fast curing with heat-reduction technology. Airflow Sciences Corp., a company known for its engineering expertise, designed the lamps’four-part reflector configuration. Nordson also offers its own line of Primarc UV curing lamps. See www.nordsonuv.com.

Grafix LLC (Burr Ridge, IL) offers IR, hot-air, UV and combination drying systems for all types of printing presses. Its hybrid UV package features include a docking station and a central switching cabinet for maximum flexibility. The docking stations enable UV interdeck modules to be moved easily to other print units, without tools. This facilitates applications such as printing on a foil or metallized laminate where the graphics require a UV opaque white ink to be printed first, cured,then printed with subsequent colors. See www.grafix-online.de.

Following a 2001 acquisition, the 38-year-old Eltosch Corp. became AdPhos/Eltsoch. New products include the following:

  • EcoDirect hot-air knives for conventional drying on larger presses.
  • LightGuide, the vendor’s standard UV lamp system is primarily water-cooled. No tools are needed to change UV lamps. Each UV module is completely interchangeable with any position: interstation, end of press and drying units.
  • TwinRay is a UV module for heat sensitive substrates. This system generates virtually no IR heat on the substrate, and doesn’t require cold air knives or other additional press cooling. Users can run two different types of UV lamps (wavelengths) to penetrate heavy solids and coverage (opaque whites or blacks).
  • WhiteCure UV lamps offer better penetration through heavily pigmented or white inks. into the surface for better adhesion.
  • PowerCube targets high performance compact UV curing drop-on-demand inkjet applications on sheetfed and web presses. This lightweight instant-on UV lamp can cure on any substrate.
See www.adphos.com.

Day Intl.’s (Dayton, OH) products for hybrid/UV printing include:
  • UV 8200 Eclipse, a blanket with an EPDM surface said to resist common UV problems such as swelling and embossing.
  • Varn Hydro Solv, a water-miscible wash that reportedly is formulated to quickly dissolve oil base, rubber base, UV and vegetable inks as well as remove water- and solvent-soluble glaze.
  • Varn PolarSolv is specifically formulated to clean UV inks from rollers and blankets.
  • Varn Safety UV Cleaner is a strong UV wash that contains neither SARA reportables nor ethylene glycol ethers (EB).
See www.dayintl.com.

Böttcher America Corp.’s (Belcamp, MD) Chameleon dual-purpose roller was honored with a 2005 GATF InterTech award. The roller lets printers switch among conventional, UV, and hybrid printing jobs without changing rollers. See www.bottcher.com.

Prime UV System’s (Carol Stream, IL) new Prime IR Action Dryers can be combined with its UV curing equipment for a complete curing/drying system for water-based inks with UV top coatings. Benefits include an integrated system installation and a central operator control system for both the Prime IR Action Dryers and the Prime UV Curing System. See www.primeuv.com.

A-Korn Roller’s (Chicago) WEROMIX roller offers stability with conventional, UV and hybrid UV inks. It features minimum to no swell in UV environments and cleans thoroughly when switching from conventional to UV and hybrid inks. WEROMIX is OEM approved. See www.a-kornroller.com.

Phoenix North America’s (Fords, NJ) Ruby Carat blanket’s UV-resistant surface and a compressible intermediate level create a surface layer said to offer good service life and printing results. Additives in the EPDM surface layer help prevent swelling while assisting ink transfer. See www.phoenixna.com.

RBP Chemical Technology (Milwaukee, WI) offers a full range of fountain solutions, plate cleaners and press washes for use with UV/ED/hybrid inks. Fountain solutions include:

  • Concept 21 system.
  • Unitrol 9000 (reportedly minimizes attack on ink).
  • Unitrol CTP (for CTP plates).
Plate cleaners include:
  • PC 400 a UV-compatible plate cleaner and scratch remover.
Washes include:
  • UV Wash HF for all types of rubber compounds.
  • UV Wash 5700: for EPDM rubber compounds.
See www.rbpchemical.com.

technotrans America (Corona, CA) is the exclusive representative for IST UV curing systems for sheetfed applications in the United States and Canada. Sheetfed printers working with temperature sensitive, nonporous substrates (such as foils, Mylar, synthetics, plastics and lightweight label stocks) are good candidates for IST’s CoolCure, UV curing in an inert atmosphere. By replacing oxygen with nitrogen in the area where curing will occur, curing efficiency is enhanced. Because the UV curing system uses less power to cure the ink or coating, heat to the substrate is reduced.

technotrans also recently released URS, reflectors said to achieve a higher level of efficacy in directing the UV energy to the substrate, allowing a higher level of cure at a lower UV output.

At PRINT 05, the company highlighted several new technologies specific to IST UV curing equipment, including advanced reflector designs, lamp configurations and control and power supply options.

The company also introduced a thermal system for drying ink and water-based coatings at maximum rated press running speeds. E-mail sfinfo@technotrans.com.

Blue Island Newspaper Printing (Harvey, IL) has installed a Prime Systems Inc. Prime Optimal News Curing System on its Goss SSC. The new air-cooled system provides high-speed UV curing and complete drying inline. Blue Island is curing Flint Ink Arrowlith UV inks on both sides of the web running at speeds up to 28,000 iph. Having the capability to print on coated and supercalendered stocks is helping the printer expand its product line. See www.primeuv.com.

Baldwin (Shelton, CT) GraphiCure GC9 UV curing system’s “Quick Start” technology reportedly enables its UV lamps to become fully operative within seconds, without a warm-up period. The system is air cooled.

Because GraphiCure GC9’s lamps are off when the press is stationary, shutters and other moving parts aren’t required, reducing maintenance issues.

UK-based W3 Litho installed the UV curing system earlier this year and is now using it for 40 percent of its jobs. See www.baldwintech.com.

Air Motion Systems’ (AMS) (Arvada, CO) Peak UV system modules slide into place at the touch of a button. A single operator can remove them without tools. The universal modules enable flexible placement—one operator can move an end-of-press module to an interstation position within minutes. The modules are plug-and-play—eliminating multiple disconnects for air, water and electrical. Wide-Beam reflector geometry enables high-speed curing at lower settings. A true mechanical chiller keeps the modules and press running cooler. For drying aqueous coatings, AMS offers Peak IR, an infrared/hot-air system said to provide maximum flexibility while maintaining proper heat, air and exhaust balance.

For plastic and static cling specialists, AMS offers Cool Impressions, an impression cylinder cooling system for heat-sensitive UV applications. See www.airmotionsystems.com.

UV Process Supply (Chicago) offers a free manual: “Maintaining UV Curing Equipment.” Topics covered include:

  • UV lamp maintenance and measurement.
  • Proper reflector/UV lamp cleaning.
  • Replacement part inventory.
  • System component cleaning.
  • Proper record keeping.
See www.uvprocess.com/manuals.

Knowledge is UV power
Several vendors offered UV educational opportunities. Heidelberg held a special UV session as part of its Print Media Academy presentations. techotrans held its fourth annual “Share the Knowledge” hybrid UV seminar featuring expert commentary from GATF, Sun Chemical, Bottcher and two printers. Moderated by technotrans’ Bill Bonallo, the panel discussed market trends, UV advantages, hybrid vs. full UV considerations, roller compounds and new solvents that don’t require turning off the press during washups. Bonallo explained why lamp, reflector, heat management and other system components must be coordinated for optimum quality.

Coming next April: UV/EB conference & expo
RadTech Intl. North America is an association dedicated to advancing UV and EB technology. The group serves as an industry forum, addressing the educational needs of the users and suppliers of UV and EB equipment and materials. RadTech will hold a UV & EB technology expo and conference April 24-26, 2006, in Chicago. See www.radtech.org.





A UV bestseller
“Optimised sheetfed UV printing” is No. 4 on the PIA/GATF Press bestseller list. The $12, 40-page booklet covers operating issues, best practices and diagnostics. To order, see www.gain.net.

GATF offers UV printing workshop
From Oct. 31 to Nov 2, GATF will host a workshop: UV Printing for the Sheetfed Press. GATF’s Ray Prince and Brian May will lead the seminar, which will include presentations from Wikoff’s Don Duncan, AdPhos Eltosch’s Domenic DiRenzo, Bottcher’s Chuck Hands and GATF’s John Maitland, Lloyd DeJidas and Gary Jones. See www.gain.net.



It all started with tower coaters
Hybrid UV is providing double-digit growth for equipment and press suppliers, not to mention commercial printers who are expanding into new markets while improving production efficiencies. Advantages for hybrid (as well as full UV) equipped presses include one-pass productivity, fast drying times, excellent rub resistance and high gloss as well as environmental friendliness, as the 100-percent solid process is VOC-free.

According to Bill Bonallo, president/CEO, technotrans America/IST, sheetfed division, the seeds of today’s success go back to the mid-1980s, when the first tower coater appeared on the scene.

“Although applying coating to enhance gloss and rub resistance existed for many years, it was only in the mid-1980s that users could apply these coatings inline without sacrificing a printing unit,” says Bonallo. “Overprint varnish really was the first coating designed to add gloss to a printed sheet. But a press unit is required to apply the varnish, and years ago, most presses had only four units.” Other drawbacks included lengthy drying times and the varnish’s tendency to yellow with age.

Packaging pioneers
Bonallo credits large-format packaging printers with pioneering the development of inline coating (other than litho varnish) application. Package printers’ quest for a protective coating for inline application without using a print unit ultimately led to the development of water-based or aqueous coating.

Early UV proponents sought to achieve the best of both worlds: wet trap application of UV coating over non-UV or conventional inks. The results often were baffling. “Freshly printed, coated and cured sheets looked glossy and the coating felt dry,” says Bonallo. “Soon thereafter, however, the gloss level would drop dramatically.”

The heavier the coverage, the more the gloss decreased, particularly when underprinted solids or screens were involved. Other problems included failure of the adhesion between the ink and the UV coating—in some cases the ink never dried under the UV coating. Clearly the UV coating and the conventional ink were incompatible.

Here come the multiple coaters
To address these issues, presses were configured with inline multiple coating or double coaters. The idea was that by applying a primer or sealant coat over the conventional ink and then drying it, you would eliminate the intimate contact between the ink and the UV coating, just as if you dry trapped it with a separate press pass.

But the same problems persisted until ink, primer and UV coating compatibility issues were resolved, paving the way for hybrid UV technology. Replacing some of the ink’s conventional oil- and solvent-based components with UV-curable ones helped address gloss back and intercoat adhesion issues. Conventional pigments in the formula, combined with UV vehicles and a photo initiator package, led to an ink with the running characteristics of a conventional ink but none of the previously encountered compatibility issues.

The next logical step, according to Bonallo, was applying a UV coating wet trap over hybrid UV inks with no intermediate aqueous primer, then curing the hybrid UV inks and the UV coating together using a multilamp UV curing unit in the press delivery. “The results were beyond everyone’s expectations,” says Bonallo. “High gloss, good long-term adhesion, and minimal (if any) gloss back.”

Do your research
While hybrid UV has come a long way, it’s still a challenging process. Bonallo advises evaluating the goal of the system in relation to the type of work to be produced. Consider substrate, lamp system, ink coverage, press running speed, and print quality expectations (gloss level, rub resistance, etc.). Review unit cost relating to the UV process (specific to ink and coating costs).

“Think long term,” says Bonallo. “Systems should offer the maximum flexibility on the widest variety of applications and substrates.”





Faster drying with a VOC-free conventional ink
Printers considering hybrid or UV inks for fast curing benefits could potentially get these advantages from a new conventional ink. Kohl & Madden, a member of the Sun Chemical Group, introduced Liberty, a VOC-free conventional sheetfed ink, at PRINT 05. Developed by Sun in conjunction with VOC Free Inc., a specialty research group, Liberty ink reportedly dries in minutes but stays open on press. The ink contains no cobalt driers and is said to come up to color quickly, dramatically reducing start-up and running waste. Spray powder use reportedly can be reduced by as much as 50 percent. Users can expect to pay a premium for the new ink, but if drying time can be cut from hours to minutes, some users can make a compelling ROI argument.

Beta testing at OSP
At a Sun-sponsored printers’ luncheon at PRINT 05, Mark Deffenbaugh, vice president of operations for Original Smith Printing (OSP) (Bloomington, IL), detailed his company’s experience as a Liberty beta tester.

OSP is a 190-employee general commercial printer, one of the largest in downstate Illinois. The company’s pressroom includes two Didde webs and several small-format presses. Its half- and full-size presses, all Heidelbergs, include one halfsize perfector (an eight-color 4/4 press with aqueous coating) and three 40-inch perfecting presses (a six-color 2/4 with aqueous coating and two 10-color presses, both 5/5).

OSP has no UV equipment on its presses and typically runs Kohl & Madden’s 725 series of conventional inks. The printer began testing the inks on the 10-color and six-color presses during July, 2005.

Quick-turn job convinces printer
Deffenbaugh concedes he was initially skeptical Liberty could live up to the manufacturer’s claims. “The turning point for me was a program we did for a minor-league baseball team,” he says. “It was a quick-turn job printed on coated stock. Fifteen minutes after the job came off press, it was folded and stitched. Before, we would’ve had to wait two to four hours and we’d still have marking on the cutter knife, folder and stitcher. This is good stuff.”

While Liberty has delivered fast drying times on OSP’s coated text and cover sheets, Deffenbaugh cautions that drying times do vary by substrate.

Aside from running slightly more water, OSP didn’t adjust its fountain solution, blankets or anything else on its presses. Deffenbaugh says OSP doesn’t leave the new ink on press at all times. “We’re still trying to find our niche, in terms of leaving it on vs. switching,” he explains.

Deffenbaugh says Liberty is likely to appeal to printers with longer run, fast-turn jobs. “Turn time is so important,” he says. “We need all the help we can get.”

See www.kohlmadden.com.


Katherine O’Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at kobrien@primediabusiness.com.