Examine the benefits of narrow-web screen printing, and learn how UV-curable inks are expanding the capabilities of this technology.
By Alan Carey
|Sources for Roll-to-Roll Narrow-Web Screen Presses|
90 13th Ave., Ste. 8
Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
Interchange Equipment, Inc.
Kammann Machines, Inc.
9705 Commerce Pkwy.
Lenexa, KS 66219
Rolt Marketing Ltd.
Modular narrow-web screen presses can easily reach speeds of 4000 impressions/hr and run for hours on end with only one press operator. Because of their modular configuration, these presses also give the label printer versatility to complement screen printing with other imaging processes and finishing capabilities—diecutting, laminating, slitting/ rewinding, and even cold-foil stamping. The machines enable the printer to use a wider variety of substrates, from paper to polycarbonates to print-treated polyesters, thus increasing the diversity of potential customers they can serve. Most of all, these narrow-web presses enable the screen printer to combine a high mesh count for fine details and a low mesh count to increase ink-film thickness and the opacity of the label. Screen modules can also be used to apply adhesives and, as mentioned previously, white-ink backgrounds that can be overprinted digitally. One application area where narrow-web screen presses are proving ideal is in the printing of conductive materials, namely UV-curable conductive inks and electroluminescent compounds. With these materials, the presses can be used to produce flexible circuits, membrane switches (Figure 3), electroluminescent lamps, and other items quickly and efficiently. The process may require as many as six passes of different inks, but the beauty of modular narrow-web presses is that you can quite simply combine six compact modules in a row to accommodate a job. The all UV workflow enhances the speed and efficiency with which such jobs can be turned around. Yes, sheet-fed screen presses are useful for laying down white base coats and for depositing metallics and other inks containing coarse pigments or particles. But with emerging digital technologies beginning to target industrial applications, the performance of the narrow-web roll-to-roll screen press plays an important role keeping screen printing competitive. Added value, low labor cost, efficiency of operation, and versatility are but a few of the many benefits this technology brings to the table. Whether you want to produce durable decals, radio-frequency ID tags, tamper-proof container labels, or gas-pump keypads, narrow-web screen-printing technology is worth a second look. About the author Alan Carey has been involved in the printing and ink industries for more than 20 years. His background includes extensive experience with UV, metallic, and a variety of specialty inks. He represents Nor-Cote Int'l, Crawfordsville, IN, in technical sales.
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