LED UV FLEXIPROOF DEVELOPMENT
The concept of UV curing involves using an energy source to bring about a physical-stage shift of ink from a liquid to a solid and opaque form. Or to put it another way, to manipulate light (energy) to penetrate a thick pigment ink film, which is actually designed to prevent the penetration of light.
UV radiation forms part of the spectrum of the electromagnetic radiation. It is adjacent to the short wave part of the visible light and reaches to the ionising radiation. The UV band is in itself sub-divided into discrete areas such as UVA long wave radiation, UV B medium and UVC short wave radiation. Curing involves the cross polymerization of a photosensitive material, which can be an ink and adhesive or a coating, generally in the long range UV-A portion of the ultraviolet bandwidth.
UV curing has found favour with many over time. UV cured products look good and many customers have appreciated the high gloss levels and scuff resistance of UV products. Printers like features such as the fact that ink stay open and do not dry in the pan.
UV made its printing debut back in the 1970s but it took time to address many of the concerns, not least of which has been the problem of managing heat. The mercury vapour lamp for instance at optimum output of around 365nm also emits infrared heat (energy), which distorts heat sensitive substrates.
It would be true to say that many of the issues associated with the development and use of UV technology have been largely resolved through workaround and refinement to existing technology or the development of new approaches. One of the most recent and exciting developments is UV LED, which extends application possibilities, provides production efficiencies, and much else beside.
There are many benefits driving companies towards using UV LED. The LED technology is both ozone and mercury-free making it environmentally more friendly; UV LED utilises small input power units and offers instant on/off capability, they need less maintenance and reportedly use up to 50% less energy than conventional mercury lamps. As less heat is generated a printer, converter or other producer now has the option of running certain extensible films and speciality materials.
A compact LED (Light Emitting Diode) UV curing system for use with LED optimised flexographic inks is now available from RK Print Coat Instruments Ltd and which can be integrated in as an option with the FlexiProof LED UV. The LED UV lamps offer a tailored output either at the important 385nm or 395nm wavelength.
LED UV extends possibilities. For instance: in the area of prototyping or trialling for instance the FlexiProof makes it possible to create accurate prototypes without taking a production press off line or without recourse to outsourcing. Because the Flexi Proof with LED UV can print directly onto a substrate and cure inline the customer ‘proof of concept’ is made much easier and speedier.
RK’s Tom Kerchiss points out that LED UV is specifically targeted towards a set nanometre wavelength. For this reason and in order that the broadest range of substrates can still be accommodated the FlexiProof UV will still be provided with dichroic mercury arc vapour lamps.
The FlexiProof UV and new variant FlexiProof LED-UV is designed to enable producers and users of flexographic UV inks to resolve colour communication and print/process issues including: colour matching, printability, gloss, scuff and chemical resistance, and so forth off-press; quickly and with minimal waste. Printing and curing in-line on the FlexiProof UV highlights pin holing and other problems, enabling corrective action to be undertaken quickly.
Around 250,000 spectators including, sponsors’ RK Print Coat Instruments watched as Ben Barker of the Parr Motorsport team took the lead during the final lap of this 62 car race to win the Porsche Carrera Cup GB/Carrera Cup France at Le Mans on Sunday June 14th.
RK Print Coat Instruments Managing Director Tom Kerchiss says: “ In terms of sponsorship this was very much a last minute decision on our part. As a company we have never been involved in sponsorship, let alone motor racing but it has certainly paid off. The RK logo was highly visible on the side panel of the car and on the front of Ben’s helmet and we were pleased to support Ben and proud to be involved in this on-the–edge-of –your-seat venture.”
Continuing Tom Kerchiss noted: “ Ben Barker wasted no time at the La Sarthe circuit, posting the second fastest time in free practice despite his lack of experience on this particular circuit. Overall the 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup race proved to be a lively run up to the famous main event, Le Mans 24-hour race.”
Ben Barker’s appearance at Le Mans is just part of a busy schedule for this up and coming driver who hails from Cambridge – RKs own part of the world. So far Ben’s motor racing has taken him from Spain to Belgium, Monaco and Austria. Not to mention making his US motoring debut at the IMSA series in Detroit.
“Wow!” a wide-eyed Barker exclaimed, “If I loved Le Mans before, I really love it now! That was an incredible race at an incredible venue and I am so happy to have come out on top. I got a great start and was able to pick Dillmann off early on, and then Bamber’s problem meant that I was able to hunt Estre down. It’s unfortunate that he suffered the puncture when he did, but that’s racing – it happens to all of us at some point – and I was glad that I was there to pick up the win.
"I want to say thanks to RK Printcoat Instruments, Ramair and Sesanti for their support for this iconic event and I pleased I could give them something to cheer.”
RK Print Coat Instruments may never have run a race, but they are no strangers to winning printing industry/trade press awards. The company won in the media hosted Innovation in Pre-press Technology category for the Flexiproof 100. A scaled down version of a flexographic production press that enabled users and producers of flexo inks to replicate real world production conditions and provide reproducible presentation samples.
The bench top FlexiProof 100 now joined by a dedicated UV system, the FlexiProof UV enables users to simulate flexographic printing for all pre-press applications; eliminating the need for product trials to be run on production printing presses and enabling a user to set standard procedures. Both the original FlexiProof 100 and newer FlexiProof UV can be used for quality control purposes; for R & D and computer colour matching, etc.