UV LED Ink: What Converters Need to Know
When UV LED curing first hit the market, it was clear that the technology would bring several advantages to the package printing industry. However, one of the biggest concerns surrounding the technology was the availability of compatible inks.
Flint Group was one of the pioneers of UV LED ink development and on Wednesday, April 12, Niklas Olsson, global brand manager of Flint Group Packaging & Narrow Web, joined “The Secrets of Automation and Color Control,” a packagePRINTING webinar sponsored by Bobst, to discuss what converters need to know about these inks.
Olsson explained that Flint Group first showed UV LED curing in operation in 2012. He discussed how on principle, UV LED inks work in much the same way as conventional UV inks, with the main difference being in the photoinitiators.
“A UV LED curing ink is a crosslink or polymerization process, so the inks are totally free of any volatile organic compounds,” Olsson said. “Nothing evaporates during the drying process. All of this is a chemical cross linking process when the ink dries. Ink is applied to the substrate and exposed to the UV light. The photointiators used are the initiators of this polymerization or drying process and therefore you get a dried ink after you’ve exposed your ink film.”
Some of the advantages of UV LED technology Olsson detailed, included how it is better suited for curing black ink, increases productivity due to its instant on/instant off capabilities and produces little to no heat. Olsson explained there are also environmental benefits to the technology, as it does not produce ozone and requires less exhaust air surrounding the press.
As the technology surrounding UV curing and inks have improved, Olsson said several packaging applications have been confirmed for usage with the technology, including:
- Pressure Sensitive Labels
- Wrap Around
- In-mold labels
- Yogurt lids
- Shrink sleeves
- Flexible packaging
To find out more about what UV LED technology can do for your business, click here to view the entire webinar on demand.