Survey “Highlighting LED UV”: Part 4 with Hönle
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
Dr. Hönle AG – UV Technology
1) What is the current market situation for LED UV and how will this further develop during the upcoming years?
Petra Burger: LED UV has already entered many fields of the printing and coating industry – as a possible alternative. Whereas in other industrial sectors, e.g. the adhesive industry, LEDs have even replaced conventional UV systems. Here the interaction between chemistry and LEDs was perfectly aligned. This is certainly not yet the same in the printing industry. Though we perceive increasing development activities on the part of the chemical industry. These chemical improvements lead to a larger selection of inks, which is the key to success for the LED technology. In accordance with chemical developments, LED systems have also been improved. Their degree of efficiency could be raised from 5% to 50%!
All in all, the increasing market penetration reveals that the acceptance of LED technology in the printing market is improving.
2) LED UV curing opens up potential for processing difficult substrates. What are the most promising applications with regard to narrow web production?
Petra Burger: There are very promising applications in the field of label printing. Here LEDs offer the advantage of lower heat input on the substrate. In addition, LED units can be built in very small dimensions and thus are perfectly apt to be integrated into the smallest spaces of the printing machine – benefits which were hitherto especially used by flexo printers but are now more and more discovered for inkjet label printing – certainly a fast-growing trend.
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?
Petra Burger: The conventional UV curing technology has been offering very good solutions for low-migration inks and coatings for quite a while. Here usually, inert chambers are applied where the oxygen, which disturbs the polymerization, is replaced by an inert gas, usually nitrogen. This technology has been applied and optimized for decades. This is also a possibility for LED UV curing.
4) LED UV is often characterized as being sustainable: What ecological aspects do you identify such as recyclability of the printed and cured substrates?
Petra Burger: The most sustainable aspects of LED UV are the long LED life-time and, primarily, the possibility to save energy: LEDs are based on semiconductor electronics which can be switched on or off at any time: standby-functions or starting are not necessary. Energy is saved. In addition, it is possible to switch off single LED segments. Thus, the irradiation widths of the LED unit can be optimally aligned with substrate and application – and again: energy is saved.
The recyclability of printed LED-cured substrates is comparable with that of conventional UV curing.