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A perfect UV application

May 1, 2008 12:00 AM

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Many commercial printers have embraced UV printing in recent years. Benefits include instant curing, fancy effects and, depending on the press configuration, enhanced process flexibility. “We're doing things that people only talked about [when UV was just coming on the market],” says Bill Bonallo, director of sheetfed sales and business development, IST America (Bolingbrook IL). “We're working on some long perfector UV projects — I know of at least three [established installations] that are just loving the UV effects combined with instant turnaound.”

On a conventional long perfector, Bonallo explains, “Even with water-based coating in between and all kinds of tricky little devices, you've still got the challenge of putting a whole bunch of ink on two sides of the paper and getting it to dry in a minimal space at reasonably high press running speeds without marking or blocking issues within the loads. The only sure way to do this is to have a fully cured surface on both sides. It was just a concept a few years ago; today it's a reality.

IST has installed its equipment on presses from most of the top press vendors. To date, the biggest U.S sheetfed installation incorporates 17 lamps. “The desire to achieve improved ink trapping has a lot to do with the number of lamps,” says Bonallo, noting that longer machines are likely to be used for metallics, opaque and specialty colors, with some mixing both flexo and litho applications on the same machine. “When you are printing 4-color process wet trap [conventionally] with no curing or drying in between, how the inks are trapped together has a great deal to do with how the final image looks. If it's wet over wet, you can only get a certain percentage of trap. With UV, you're guaranteed 100 percent trap — the stuff is dead dry before the next color is applied. It makes a huge difference.”

Stay tuned: We'll cover perfectors in the June issue of AMERICAN PRINTER.