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Seeing the light

Jul 1, 2011 12:00 AM


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IST METZ held its Fifth UV Days at its sprawling headquarters near Stuttgart, Germany, this May. The three-day event, which attracted about 550 attendees from 30 different countries, featured four printing demos on sheetfed, digital, label and pad printing equipment.

IST converted part of its massive Plant 2B building into a temporary UV Lounge complete with couches, chairs and refreshment stations. Twenty-two partner exhibitors ringed the seating area with tabletop booths, including Flint, Heidelberg, Henkel, Muller Martini and Technotrans. Integration Technology Ltd. (ITL) (www.uvintegration.com), which recently entered a strategic alliance with IST, displayed its digital UV expertise on a wide-format machine. Its technology also figured prominently in a demo from label press vendor “m print.”

Visitors also could see MGI's (www.mgi-fr.com) JETvarnish digital inkjet spot UV coater and a Kent (www.kentpp.com) pad printer equipped with IST's LED UV (LUV) system.

Welcome/Willkommen

Dirk Jägers, managing director, IST METZ, and Holger Kühn, sales director, welcomed the visitors, alternating between German and English. Founded in 1977, IST METZ has 500 employees worldwide. All of its UV components — lamps, reflectors, lamp housings and power supplies — are developed and manufactured in-house, a critical factor for maintaining tight quality control, according to Jägers. At the conclusion of the executives' remarks, attendees were divided into five groups for tours given in English, French, German, Russian or Chinese.

One lamp, no waiting

The sheetfed demo required a brisk walk to Plant 1, the home base of a Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102 used for customer training. IST Compact unites high-performance drying technology with specially adapted reactive printing inks. Interdeck UV lamps are eliminated in favor of a single lamp installed after the last printing unit. Users can produce standard process-color print jobs using standard densities without varnish. Press speed isn't restricted.

As the name implies, the compact switch cabinet, cooling unit and exhaust-air unit occupy less than 2 sq. m, a dramatic space saving vs. IR dryers or standard UV units.

In a follow-up conversation, Rudy Bienert, key account manager, sheetfed applications, explained that following Ryobi's Drupa 2008 demonstration of an LED UV-equipped press, ink manufacturers stepped up their reactive ink efforts. If the inks reacted so well to LED UV, why not try them with mercury- and iron-doped lamps? IST achieved excellent results: energy-minimized curing that reduces power consumption while lowering investment costs, as only a single drying system is required.

Bill Bonallo, vice president of IST America Corp.'s sheetfed group, stressed that IST Compact (formerly “Instant Cured Commercial”) targets niche commercial jobs — it's not intended for packaging or special effects. “It's not a replacement for traditional UV,” he said. “It's likely to have the greatest impact on the oil-based ink market for commercial printers. The challenge is all in the ink; the hardware side is pretty simple.”

According to Bienert, the Asian market provided the impetus for IST Compact. Many customers are printing on non-absorbent paper and would otherwise have to wait days for these jobs to dry. Instant UV curing provided via a streamlined footprint is an attractive proposition in a market where space and time are at a premium.

He added that IST Compact addresses “stretch” and other long perfector challenges. Running one UV lamp before the perfector and one at the end lets users achieve good gloss levels with no conventional ink issues or spray powder headaches.

Best of both worlds for new digital label press

Olaf Walter, president of mprint (www.mprint.biz) introduced the LP2000 high-speed digital inkjet printer that features both conventional UV and UV-LED systems. A compact printing unit prints all four process colors. In addition to the print heads, it contains ITL's “Pincure” UV LED lamp heads and power supplies. Each ink droplet is frozen on the media as it is jetted, but with a surface energy tension which readily accepts further droplets, giving an effective color “lift” without any interlayer adhesion problems.

IST's air-cooled MBS 5 InkJet UV system provides end-of-press drying — inks are cured immediately. An inline rotary diecutter provides the finishing touch.

No warm-up time for this LED UV

Pad printing, familiar to most of us as a mechanism for imprinting golf balls, provided a demonstration of IST's LED UV system (LUV). Stuttgart-based Kent produced souvenir plastic bottle openers on a pad printer incorporating the LUV unit. System power can be regulated in one-percent increments from zero to 100%. Unlike a conventional mercury discharge lamp, UV power is available immediately after the lamps are turned on — the LED UV can be switched on and off in accordance with the stamping cycle. Users can minimize their curing times while using the least possible energy.

Leave the light on

The last stops on the tour highlighted all aspects of lamp production. Visitors got a comprehensive overview on the design and manufacturing process of UV lamps, reflectors and lamp housings for sheetfed and web presses at eta plus electronic, an IST subsidiary. A quick stop at another IST subsidiary, S1 Optics, covered reflector optical and vacuum coating.

“We wanted to show visitors that we are not just a company concerned with the classic applications that make printing processes better, faster and more efficient,” said Jägers. “When people think of UV, we want to be the reference point.”

Are your sure about your UV cure?

Popular methods for testing UV ink and varnish polymerization include methylethylketone (MEK) rub tests, tape adhesion tests, coefficient of friction (slide angle) tests and potassium permanganate swabbing.

With IST's ink rub tester (IRT), a solvent is applied and the number of double strokes required for penetration of the layer is set. The device measures the ink or varnish's resistance to the solvent and the result is used to determine the degree of cure.

xpedx & Ryobi to break U.S., Canada distribution pact

xpedx and Ryobi Ltd. have agreed to end their 33-year-old distribution relationship in the U.S. and Canada. Effective Oct. 1, 2011, Ferrostaal AG will be master distributor for Ryobi offset printing presses in these markets.

xpedx will continue to provide sales support until Oct. 1, 2011, and during that time, John Torrey, vice president and general manager, xpedx Technology Center, will lead the transition of the Ryobi business from xpedx to Ferrostaal. After Oct. 1, Ryobi press owners will have three service options: xpedx, Ferrostaal and independent service providers.

“[We have] represented Ryobi's offset press line for more than 15 years,” says Ferrostaal's Bernd Ahlmann. “Last year, we took on distribution activities for Ryobi products in the Middle East and we are now very pleased to follow this success story with Ryobi in the United States and Canada.”

Water bottles are reborn as synthetic sheets

GPA's (www.askgpa.com) InCycle uses as little as one-fifth the raw materials of traditional synthetic films and weighs up to 80% less than other film products. It's manufactured from recycled water bottles (25-50% post-consumer recycled PET). Applications include signage and displays; packaging and boxes; posters and menus; POP and shelf talkers; cups and containers; presentation folders; gift cards; and durable brochures. InCycle Expanded PET is stocked in 28 × 40-inch sheets for offset and UV printing, with custom sizes and gauges up to 60 mil available.

IST teams with UV inkjet lamp specialist

UV Days served as a coming out party for IST's strategic alliance with Integration Technology Ltd. (ITL). Dirk Jägers, managing director, IST METZ, noted that the two companies' UV and LED product ranges “complement each other perfectly.”

Established in 2000, the UK-based ITL is a leading supplier of UV lamp units for inkjet printing devices. “As a result of the planned cooperation in marketing, sales and development, both our companies can combine their resources and at the same time increase their presence,” says Adrian Lockwood, managing director and CEO of ITL.

Good Morning, Baltimore: MLP U.S.A. relocates HQ

MLP U.S.A. will move its corporate headquarters to Hunt Valley, MD, this fall. The new headquarters, located north of Baltimore, currently houses Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America's corrugating machinery division. The move involves office and management personnel and spare parts inventory. The regional sales teams, sales territories and field service technicians will be unaffected.

Briefly noted: Installations, etc.

  • Pointsmith (www.pointsmith.com) an at-store point-of-purchase marketing management company based in Katy, TX (Greater Houston), has increased its capacity with a new KBA Rapida 106 41-inch, 6-color press with full UV capabilities. Pointsmith will be installing the new press in August 2011.
  • Smyth Companies (www.smythco.com) will install a Mitsubishi Diamond 3000LX sheetfed press at its Bedford, VA, plant this month. The coater and UV-equipped Diamond 3000LX can accommodate a wide range of paper and specialty nonporous substrates, including C1S and C2S label stock, paperboard and polypropylene. Founded in 1877, the family-owned Smyth Companies serves the food, beverage, personal care, household care and private label markets.
  • Digital Hub's (www.digitalhubchicago.com) manroland ROLAND 300 5-color press with coater and UV capabilities has helped it capture print quality accolades as well as “green” recognition. The Chicago printer took home 23 PII Pinnacle awards, including five “best of category” citations.
  • ANRI is the first Japanese firm to install KBA's waterless Genius 52UV. It can print on PVC, polycarbonate, polystyrene, ABS, PP and other challenging substrates.
  • Diamond Packaging (www.diamondpackaging.com) has installed a second 8-color Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 in a double coating configuration with initial flexo dispersion coater, four modular deliveries, and full interdeck UV capability. The company added its first Speedmaster XL 105 LYY-8+LYYL one year ago to tackle high-end jobs with inline finishing and specialty coatings.
  • The centerpiece of Suttle-Straus' (www.suttle-straus.com) $2.6 million equipment upgrade is a new 40-inch Komori 6-color plus UV coating press featuring automatic plate changers and color profiling systems. The company also added a Kodak NexPress 3600. “These machine upgrades enable us to achieve shorter makeready times, higher productivity and less spoilage,” says Ted Norman, vice president of manufacturing. “We can run stocks up to 40 pt., an important feature to satisfy increased demand in point- of-purchase advertising.”

See the time-lapse installation at www.youtube.com/user/SuttleStraus.

Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at KOB@americanprinter.com.