Can the printing disciplines be ranked in order of UV usage?
by Susan Friedman
How easy is it to separate the UV leaders from the UV followers? On the surface, UV flexo has executed a clean swipe of the No.1 spot, right?
Maybe so. But don't forget the longevity of UV screen and UV letterpress...two processes that confronted the unknowns of UV years ago and have been using it to their advantage ever since. And don't count out offset, which may be leaning on UV a bit more now to meet soaring quality goals, and gravure, which stands ready to employ UV if the market asks for it.
As seen through equipment eyes
Curing equipment suppliers don't hesitate to crown flexo the current UV frontrunner. Hanovia, a manufacturer of UV curing lamps, reflectors, and power supplies, is busily meeting UV flexo needs ranging from narrow web to 110" sheet, and feeding an increasing demand for cool UV, which it accommodates with patented, specially coated optics.
President Len Perre says flexo leads UV penetration due to improvements in coating and ink chemistries. "More are UV curable, and the cost has decreased," he notes. "My guess is it'll grow and maintain its position during the next three to five years."
Perre ranks screen as second in UV usage, and offset as a distant third, adding that offset-printed products often have less demanding end-uses that don't call for UV's resistance to the elements.
John Thome, Director of Sales and Marketing at Fusion Aetek, joins Perre's belief that UV flexo won't be losing its momentum anytime soon, "because flexo people have realized they can now compete with offset."
UV flexo's popularity hasn't distracted suppliers from efforts to serve other processes. Fusion Aetek, for one, has engineered a smaller version of its Ultrapak line for its core narrow-web flexo customers, which can cure heat sensitive films without chill rolls, and features an efficient constant wattage power system. At the same time, however, it has expanded the Ultrapak line to 34" and 600 wpi for wider, speedier offset business forms applications.