Survey “Highlighting LED UV”: Part 3 with GEW
The whole printing industry is talking about LED UV: Where do companies see the greatest potential in this regard? NarrowWebTech asked a range of companies who are active in the label industry what they think about LED UV and its current status quo in the market.
Conducted by Rosina Obermayer
Director, International Sales
1) What is the current market situation for LED UV and how will this further develop during the upcoming years?
Marcus Greenbrook: The market is buoyant and market share for LED UV is rising steadily. Printers and OEMs are increasingly aware of the benefits, whilst the cost of LED UV systems is reducing.
2) LED UV curing opens up potential for processing difficult substrates. What are the most promising applications with regard to narrow web production?
Marcus Greenbrook: LED UV creates no heat radiation, which is better for many processes where the temperature must be controlled, such as when working with difficult and delicate substrates. Double production speeds can be achieved with thick, heavily pigmented inks. The LEDs’ high intensity UV-A rays penetrate thick ink coatings better for more effective curing with improved adhesion, delivering faster speeds with silkscreen and opaque white coatings. When laminating, LED UV penetrates through the top film layer with minimal absorption, making it more efficient than a traditional lamp.
3) Ink migration is a hot topic: What are the challenges regarding printing inks and substrates? Compared with other ink systems, what do print shops have to consider if processing LED UV inks?
Marcus Greenbrook: Migration of chemicals from printed ink areas to foodstuffs is a regular concern for printers. They must monitor and control the curing process to ensure compliance with legislation, via stringent GMP practices and the use of low migration inks. On arc systems, products like GEW’s multi-point UV monitor ensure the amount of UV light incident on the substrate is monitored and traceable as part of a GMP procedure, giving confidence that regulations are being met. With LED, many ink manufacturers now offer low migration formulations that meet the same criteria as arc inks, so from a process viewpoint there is little change.
4) LED UV is often characterized as being sustainable: What ecological aspects do you identify such as recyclability of the printed and cured substrates?
Marcus Greenbrook: The sustainability benefits of LED UV include:
- Over 50% energy savings can be seen when compared to a new arc system, and in the case of an older arc system this saving can increase to over 75%.
- The absence of mercury is good for the environment and eliminates concerns over future legislation on mercury.
- LEDs last much longer, so the impact of spare parts is reduced.
- LEDs do not generate ozone when in operation.
- LEDs use UV inks in the same way as arc systems, so there is little difference in the recyclability of the printed and cured substrates.