UV LED Technology: Getting Started

Phoseon’s narrow web expert addresses some frequently asked questions about the emerging curing technology.

UV LED curing is ideal for a wide range of packaging applications, enabling its users to print on a variety of packaging materials at high speeds. The intense output, low heat, and reduced energy usage of UV LED systems can enable printers to decrease material waste and operating costs while providing customers with superior product.

Phoseon Technology, based in Hillsboro, OR, USA, was founded in 2002, and is 100% devoted to the advancement of this relatively new technology. The company believes the use of UV LED curing in the label industry increases productivity, improves workplace safety and minimizes adverse environmental impacts, in comparison to existing alternative curing methods.

L&NW recently caught up with Sara Jennings, Phoseon’s customer program manager, who also serves as the company’s narrow web expert. Here, she shares with the label industry the answers to some potential questions converters may have regarding the adoption of UV LED technology.

"UV LED light sources are ideal for high-speed curing in narrow web presses and other forms of label printing."
Sara Jennings, Customer Program Manager, Phoseon Technology

L&NW: How compatible is UV LED curing with the specific requirements of the label printing industry?

Sara Jennings: UV LED light sources are ideal for high-speed curing in narrow web presses and other forms of label printing. Users of UV LED curing systems can process a variety of materials – including thin and heat-sensitive substrates – at maximum production speeds with low-input power.  UV LED technology drastically reduces energy consumption and the surface temperature of the items being decorated.

Because of the wavelengths at which they operate, LED light sources provide excellent through-cure that improves adhesion. The light sources deliver high uniformity and consistency over time, giving the end user confidence in the quality of the process. Now that UV LED curing has gained worldwide acceptance, more and more users are recognizing the real-world benefits.

L&NW: What effect does UV LED curing have on press performance?

SJ:  Presses with UV LED perform at 20-30% faster speeds on average. And with shop floor space valuable, UV LED light sources can be used to build more compact printers, with shorter web paths that minimize waste. Compact printing devices for product decorating can be used in a wider range of printing environments.

L&NW: Can you describe the comparison between UV LED curing versus existing alternatives?

SJ:  Users report that UV LED curing light sources produce better cures and better adhesion on a wide range of materials, including recycled materials. They can also achieve higher speeds with black and white inks. Tough opaque whites and dense blacks are much easier to cure. UV Metallic range inks are stable and print well. UV Adhesives for lamination and PSA, as well as for cold foil perform well. Inks do not cure prematurely in the press when exposed to overhead lighting.

L&NW: Are there energy savings UV LED adopters can enjoy?

SJ:  Users can save up 50% or more on energy bills. Energy cost savings can be substantial, particularly if energy costs continue to rise.