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APRIL ONLINE SIDEBAR: Energy-conscious inert UV debuts

Apr 12, 2002 12:00 AM


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Inert-UV technology is well established in the industrial-coatings market, and is now beginning to make headway into the graphic arts. The process--siliconizing paper and/or film--utilizes a chamber in which oxygen is replaced by nitrogen to less than 60 parts per million. The result: The UV-curing system consumes 80 percent less power and uses 80 percent less heat to cure. Eltosch GmbH (Hamburg, Germany), which was bought recently by Advanced Photonics (Adphos) (Bruckmuhl-Heufeld, Germany), a provider of near-infrared, "cold-heat" technology, began supplying inert-UV systems in 1992. It sees advantages for the sheetfed offset printing market--in particular, UV printing on film.

"If you’re running thin plastic foils, they become tremendously unstable under a lot of heat," notes Rudy Valenta, president and CEO of Eltosch North America (Brookfield, WI). "With an 80 percent reduction in heat, it allows us to run on lenticular-screen-type plastics without any registration or fit problems."

One recent inert-UV installation is at a commercial printer in Belgium, where Eltosch’s inert-UV system is installed on four KBA sheetfed presses. "For one of the applications, they’re printing on plastic," explains Eltosch national sales manager Garry Sullivan. "Normally for a UV printer to print on plastic, you’d have to have a UV interdeck after every print unit."

One application at the Belgian printer is on a five-unit press; if using a conventional UV-curing system, Sullivan says it would be necessary to install a UV interdeck at each unit to cure the printed ink and then a UV unit at the end of the press for the final cure. Because the inert-UV system is reportedly so much more efficient than conventional UV curing, however, such an extensive installation is unnecessary.

Sullivan adds that a side benefit of inert UV’s efficiency is that less photoinitiator can be used in UV ink and varnish, reducing cost and odor.

Valenta says Eltosch may soon have a U.S. inert-UV installation at a major press supplier on a sheetfed press; he notes that the system is also installable on a web press as well.