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Ensure press operator safety when running UV

Feb 1, 2011 12:00 AM


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The UV process is wonderful for many reasons:

  • High gloss.
  • Sharp dots, especially on uncoated stock.
  • Instant drying.
  • No VOCs in the ink.
  • Printed waste can be recycled.
  • High rub.
  • No setoff.

But you have to use it properly to reap the benefits. UV inks, like any chemical, must be handled safely. Based on the input of several ink companies and associations, as well as printers, here are some tips:

  1. Show all pressroom employees the RadTech video on UV.

  2. Uncontrolled ink misting is not acceptable. If you have misting, work with your ink maker first. If it cannot solve the problem, look at the purchase of mist collectors/fume collectors to be placed over every unit.

    The inherent chemistry of UV oligomers (resins) and monomers makes misting much more likely than in oil-based inks. This is because the resins in oil-based inks are very large polymers with higher wet-ink cohesive properties. The oligomers in UV inks are much smaller molecules (designed to polymerize in the curing process, not the printing process). The use of fillers to body up a UV ink can help, but the use of non-functional dry powder doesn't help any other lithographic or color control properties. Sometimes the performance properties of the print job prevent low-misting formulation options, hence the common choice to install misting hoods.

  3. Press operators: Always wear disposable Nitrile gloves when handling ink. Ink should not be in direct contact with skin. Barrier creams are not a substitute for gloves but can be used with gloves.

  4. No food or drink is to be kept at the press or consumed at the press.

  5. To remove UV ink from skin, wash with soap and water — do not use solvent.

  6. UV light or indirect UV light must not be looked at. If shields are not in place, then put them in place. No light leaks are permitted.

  7. If UV ink gets on clothing and is absorbed, change clothing.

  8. If UV ink soaks into a shoe, buy new shoes. Shoe covers can be used.

  9. A good source of UV “gear” is UV Process Supply.

  10. Wash hands with soap and water before a lunch break or a visit to the restroom.

  11. Keep used UV rags separate from regular cleaning rags.

Thanks to Dr. Don Duncan of Wikoff Color for guidance on this topic.

Raymond J. Prince, vice president, Technical Consulting Group, NAPL, is a leading expert in pressroom technical and operational issues. Contact him at (605) 941-1492 or raymondjprince@aol.com.