The long wait for UV LED curing technology to reach high speed sheetfed offset printing in the U.S. market appears to be officially over, as indicated by several major customer announcements from press manufacturers, curing technology firms, and international ink companies.
According to representatives from Air Motion Systems | AMS UV (Booth 563), the development of high intensity LED curing lamps that fit the space and speed requirements of sheetfed offset machines was made possible by optical, cooling, and efficiency advances in UV LED construction. Adding to this is affordable LED high wavelength curing inks available from ink manufacturers, including INX, Flint Group, Toka, Ink Systems, and others.
“There is a rapid technology shift underway from UV towards LED in analog commercial printing. In five years since their first introduction at drupa, LED UV systems have not only caught up with conventional UV and HUV systems in performance, but in many ways now surpass them” says Steve Metcalf, President and CEO of AMS. “We’re announcing multiple LED UV customers in the U.S. and Europe this year”.
LED UV curing systems differentiate from other forms of High Wave UV curing systems in that LED systems are constructed from arrays of high power UV light emitting diodes, avoiding the drawbacks of hot, mechanically shuttered, ozone-emitting mercury lamps that require frequent bulb changes. As a result, LED-based UV curing lamps adapt easier to new and existing presses in the market from all manufacturers, including machines not prepared for UV.
AMS reports that inquiries on its LED UV systems are nearly 20 to one over conventional UV systems technology since it formally launched its XP5 Series technology in the U.S. market at the end of 2012. “LED solves most of the biggest challenges in sheetfed offset UV and IR/hot air drying, including energy consumption, space, heat, costly press preparation, warm-up time, faults, safety, and consistency of performance” adds Metcalf, “It simply makes the entire drying process easier and more affordable, and brings UV curing benefits to a much larger audience”.
The AMS XP5 Series PEAK LED UV system is now in production at numerous sheetfed facilities around the world on multiple makes, models, and format sizes of machines, and is a recently announced winner of a 2013 MUST SEE ’EM Award. AMS is exhbiting in the GREENspace pavilion Booth 563.