Wikoff Blog

Revolutionizing the Commercial Ink Industry: UV LED Cure Flexo Inks and Coatings

by Wikoff|12.08.23


In the fast-paced world of ink production, staying ahead of the competition means embracing the latest technological advancements. One of the most transformative innovations in recent years is UV LED curing technology, a game-changer in the world of inks and coatings. As a leader and expert in the industry, Wikoff Color is thrilled to shed light on the incredible potential of UV LED cure technology in Flexographic inks and coatings for the printing industry and how it’s revolutionizing the way we print and coat materials.

Flexographic printing is well-known for its versatility and suitability for various substrates, including labels, flexible packaging, and corrugated cardboard. The integration of UV LED curing into flexographic printing has unlocked new possibilities for the production process and the printers who utilize it.

Understanding UV LED Cure Technology

Before delving into the specifics of UV LED cure technology, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of UV curing itself. Ultraviolet (UV) curing is a process where specially formulated inks, varnishes, or coatings are exposed to ultraviolet light to polymerize instantly. Polymerization describes the ink’s response to UV energy, transforming the ink from a liquid into a solid. This rapid curing process offers several advantages over traditional methods, including reduced drying times, increased efficiency, and improved print quality.

UV LED curing, the latest evolution of this technology, replaces traditional mercury arc lamps with Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to produce the required UV radiation. This advancement brings a host of benefits to printers everywhere:

Energy Efficiency: LED curing systems consume significantly less energy compared to traditional mercury arc lamps. This alone results in thousands saved in operational costs over the course of a year, as well as reducing your environmental impact.

Safety and Sustainability: LED curing eliminates the need for mercury, which is present in traditional lamps, making the process safer for operators and more environmentally friendly.

Instant On/Off: LED lamps can be turned on and off instantly, eliminating warm-up and cool-down times, thus improving production efficiency and reducing maintenance costs and times.

No Additional Heat: LED lamps add no extra heat to the press or the web. This is critical for heat sensitive substrates or unsupported films, which helps reduce substrate waste as well as expanding the range of applications for Flexography, opening new doors to new markets.

Speed and Productivity: LED curing can potentially produce a better cure allowing for faster print speeds, enabling higher throughput and shorter production cycles.

Reduced Waste: Instant curing prevents ink smudging and reduces substrate waste, resulting in cost savings and more environmentally responsible practices.

While UV LED Curing has many benefits that can help you in multiple ways, it is important to be knowledgeable of some possible disadvantages to implementing UV LED Curing in your Flexographic ink system.

Expensive Photo-Initiators: LED Photo-initiators tend to be more expensive. This could mean increasing the cost of your ink system.

Viscosity: LED Photo-initiators can make the ink more viscous than before. This could pose run-ability issues on press.

Availability: LED Cure equipment is not as readily available to printers as conventional cure equipment is.

UV Coatings: A Protective Shield

In addition to revolutionizing Flexographic printing, UV LED curing has also transformed the way we apply coatings in the printing industry. UV coatings are applied to printed materials to enhance their appearance and provide protection. The advantages of UV LED coatings include:

Instant Drying: No drying time is needed, allowing for immediate post-processing and packaging.

Enhanced Durability: UV LED coatings offer superior resistance to abrasion, chemicals, and UV light, ensuring the longevity of printed materials.

Environmentally Friendly: Reduced energy consumption when using UV LED coatings make them more sustainable.

UV LED curing technology has disrupted the commercial ink industry, reshaping the way we print and coat materials. The energy efficiency, speed, and environmental benefits of UV LED cure systems are impossible to ignore. By adopting UV LED cure Flexo inks and coatings, Flexo printers can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance print quality, while also contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible industry.

The future of ink production is here, and it shines brightly with UV LED curing. As a leader and expert in the field, Wikoff encourages printers to embrace this cutting-edge technology to remain competitive and deliver high-quality printed materials to meet the ever-evolving demands of the market. If you are interested in upgrading to UV LED inks and coatings in your pressroom, Wikoff is dedicated to helping you reach that next level.

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