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UV LED's Impact in the Speciality Printing Market

Stacy Hoge looks at examples of this curing technology in practical applications

Ultraviolet LEDs (UV LED) are taking their place as a mainstream curing technology in many different printing applications. Rapid technological advancements by UV LED manufacturers, ink formulators, and machine builders are being made in all areas, from digital ink-jet to flexography, screen, and even offset, demonstrating the far-reaching potential and growing acceptance of UV LED curing. This article provides real world experience from a printer using UV LED curing and looks at inks and machines now available for UV LED curing in specialty printing applications.

Ultraviolet LEDs (UV LED) are taking their place as a mainstream curing technology in many different printing applications.

Advances  in UV LED lamp technology and UV screen-printing ink formulations have proven LED curing as a viable alternative to medium-pressure mercury  lamps.  UV LED light sources are  ideal for  high-speed  curing in screen-printing applications such as roll-to-roll, container decorating,  sheet-fed, and many more. Let us take a closer look at one printer who was an early adopter of the technology for their operations.

UV  LED curing technology uses significantly less energy, requires no outside venting, and has no ozone emissions. 

UV LEDs have a lifetime of more than 20,000 hours of 'operational on' time and beyond if they maintain proper operating temperatures. UV LEDs have a very long life-time so the traditional issue of replacing a bulb every 2,000 to 4,000 hours is removed.

Phoseon Technology has life tests with more than 40,000 hours of 'operational  on' time with minimal decrease in intensity. For example, at 20,000 hours of 'operational on' if the curing unit is on eight hours/day x five days/week x 50 weeks/year (2,000 hours/year) it would last for at least ten straight years.

Prices for UV LED lamps continue to come down even as their output increases, making additional applications feasible both technically and economically.