Maturing UV-Cure Technology

UV-cure inkjet printing technology has steadily improved and developed since it was introduced more than a decade ago. With new developments in equipment technology, inks and media, UV-cure technology has matured and enjoyed rapid adoption in a number of markets over the past few years.

In the wide-format inkjet space, it has quickly evolved from mainly a flatbed inkjet printing technology to one that has become very versatile for a host of applications. Many believe that UV-cure technology offers graphics output providers the best mix of safety, reliability and material compatibility that the industry has seen in quite some time.

“UV LED technology now has the performance to replace mercury vapor and metal-halide arc lamps used in virtually all UV-cure printing, adhesive and coating applications.”
Chad Taggard, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Phoseon Technology

As the industry continues to adopt UV-cure technology, an increasing number of print service providers are looking at high-speed UV-curing flatbeds and hybrids, as well as dedicated UV-curing roll-to-roll printers.

Better ink formulations, new LED-based UV-cure lamps and new printhead technologies have come together to create a market that has made the segment much more cost-competitive with solvent inkjet printers. Today, most of the major wide-format equipment makers have some stake in the UV-cure inkjet market. And several printer manufacturers—including Mimaki, Roland and EFI—have become pioneering leaders within the newer LED-based UV-cure inkjet printer segment. 

LED UV-Cure Technology Emerges
“The rapid adoption of UV LED curing technology is due to the inherent advantages of economics, new system capabilities, and environmental improvements,” says Chad Taggard, director of marketing and business development at Phoseon Technology, a UV cure-lamp manufacturer based in Hilllsboro Ore. “UV LED technology now has the performance to replace mercury vapor and metal-halide arc lamps used in virtually all UV-cure printing, adhesive and coating applications.”

Roland’s VersaUV LEF 12” Benchtop UV flatbed printer uses an LED-based UV-curing system and can print directly onto three-dimensional objects.

In fact, Taggard says, the adoption of LED-based UV-cure technology has become a major trend in the world of UV-cure inkjet printing, adding that the new technology allows printer manufacturers to offer lower operating costs, higher quality output and expanded printing capabilities. UV LED cure lamps, he says, have longer lifetimes, run cooler, contain no mercury, are less expensive to operate and generate no ozone, as do many conventional arc lamps. And Taggard is not the only one excited about LED-based printing technology.

“We are seeing more wide-format printer manufacturers considering and offering UV LED curing technology in newer devices,” says Paul McGovern, national sales manager at Mimaki USA, Suwanee, Ga. That’s because, “in addition to lower operating energy costs and faster start up times, LED cure lamps can last up to five years, and allow printing onto heat-sensitive substrates. This is a major influence in cost of ownership comparisons and is helping to move this segment to the forefront.