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The Latest Advances in UV Inks, Part I

(June 2010) posted on Mon May 24, 2010

Screen Printing asked industry experts to comment on the latest advancements in UV inks.

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By Gail Flower

The advantages of using UV inks are clear, and innovative advancements continue. This article asks suppliers involved in basic R&D and industry experts about improvements, comparisons, and problems with UV inks.

When did UV inks find acceptance?

Larry Hettinger The first patent for a UV-curable printing ink was granted in 1946. The printing industry witnessed a rapid growth in interest in this new technology 20 years later, brought on by the introduction of the first solvent-restrictive legislation (the Los Angeles Pollution Act, 1966). Aimed at reducing the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the atmosphere, the Act heralded an age of heightened environmental awareness amongst governments, businesses, and consumers. The printing industry recognized the need for a long-term alternative to its traditional solvent-based ink chemistry. UV curable inks, which contain little or no organic solvents, offered a potential solution.

Bruce Ridge Sales of the first UV inks for screen printing began in the late 1970s. At that time very few printers had the equipment to cure the inks. It was not until the mid-1980s that UV inks were being used and accepted by a large number of screen printers. This is a unique example of something where screen printing has led the way, ahead of all the other printing processes. UV inks for wide-format inkjet printing were introduced in the early 1990s and have quickly advanced in parallel with the development of the printers and their UV curing capabilities. Since it is not practical for inkjet printers to change out inks when they change to printing on different media, there is a far greater need for UV inkjet inks to be more multipurpose in function.

Johnny Shell, Ray Greenwood, Jeff Burton UV inks appeared in the printing industry in the 1970s. They really started gaining momentum in the late 1980s and now are extensively used in the screen-printing industry. Wide-format digital saw popularity of UV begin to grow in the early 2000s. Sales of UV printers have been given considerable momentum with extensive environmental regulations worldwide.


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