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The Latest Advances in UV Inks, Part II

(June 2010) posted on Wed May 26, 2010

This discussion centers on cost comparisons, challenges with UV inks, and how photoinitiators work.

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By Gail Flower

In Part I of this article (Screen Printing, June/July 2010, p. 26) suppliers and industry experts were asked about improvements, comparisons, and problems with UV inks. In Part II, these same professionals were asked specifics on cost comparisons, challenges with UV inks, and how photoinitiators work.

What are cost comparisons between UV inks and solvent-based ones?

Larry Hettinger While ink cost per gallon is slightly higher for UV inks, cost in-use is less due to increased space utilization, faster turn rates, lower ink consumption, and less energy required.

UV inks are more expensive than solvent inks because of the individual ink components cost. However, the higher mileage of UV inks helps to offset their higher per-gallon cost, and is one of the reasons why UV inks can deliver cost savings in use when compared with solvent inks. Further savings are achieved by the increased productivity and reduced down time associated with UV inks. Because UV ink experiences no loss during printing or curing and all of the ink printed on the substrate is incorporated into the cured ink film, UV inks permit the use of much finer mesh counts than would be used for solvent-based inks. The difference results in significantly higher area coverage per unit of ink.

Continuous UV curing units are energy efficient, using only 10-50% of the energy consumed by a hot air dryer. Flash curing units are even more energy and cost efficient. Unlike solvent inks, there is no need to install expensive pollution-control measures when using UV inks. Not only does this provide a considerable savings in terms of capital outlay, but it also further reduces energy and waste-disposal costs.

Robin McMillan UV inks may typically cost more than solvent-based inks, but they can ultimately save customers by as much as 30%, depending on the market and printers they use.

Johnny Shell, Ray Greenwood, and Jeff Burton While the waste and maintenance costs are less for UV systems, start-up and operating costs are higher. In particular, ink costs are two to four times more expensive due to higher raw material costs. However, with solvent systems, a large percent evaporates into the air, so more (by volume) is used when compared to UV.


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