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Jan 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Bill Bonallo, vice president of IST America Corp.'s (Bolingbrook, IL) sheetfed group has long championed UV printing developments. But, as regular readers know, he's not afraid to tell it like it is. He's previously tackled proper component configuration and testing tips (“Tough Enough,” January 2009; and “It's all about UV flexibility,” June 2009); perfecting challenges (“A perfect application,” May 2008); misleading terminology (“Hybrid UV then & now,” May 2008); and technical milestones (“It all started with tower coaters,” October 2005).

Bonallo reports that many printers hesitate to switch between UV and conventional printing. “A high percentage believe you must stay in UV [mode] all the time. But with “combi” compound rollers, that's not the case. It all has to do with the ink formulation and washup chemistry. There are no industry guidelines on what constitutes UV. But people do successfully switch back and forth from pure/hybrid UV to conventional every day. “

John Roberts' Chad Sanders offers confirmation: “We go back and forth on both of our UV presses. Each has a Bottcher ( Chameleon roller, which has dramatically improved our ability to [switch from one technology to the other].”

While many printers are prospering with UV, there is a learning curve. “Despite significant training and support from outside vendors, some users find it isn't as turnkey as they anticipated,” says Bonallo. “Just as the UV system suppliers sometimes don't speak the same language, there's a lot of contradictory information about consumables and chemistry.”

“UV is a different animal,” concedes dik Bolger. “We have a one-of-a-kind installation, and our operators had to get used to it.”

Some would-be UV adopters grapple with sticker shock as they consider higher consumables costs and compute their power bill for all those lamps. Bonallo concedes these concerns are valid but notes that UV opens new doors. “Despite some remarkable achievements, we're only scratching the surface. A lot of presses are combining flexo, UV and conventional technology with multiple inline coaters and foiling. This is on high speed, 40-inch equipment. It's pretty amazing.”