INX Digital International Co. today announced the global availability of its UV HeadCure print head cleaning service. Employing a new, patent-pending technology, it has shown to provide 100 percent recovery of UV print heads with obstructed nozzles and restricted flow.
?This is a major advance in print head cleaning that can pay huge dividends for digital print operations everywhere,? said Peter Padan, the INX Digital Technical Services Supervisor who developed the new process and manages the program at Triangle. Padan said that solvent ink-related environmental issues along with the flexibility of UV and UV print quality have all contributed to a rapid increase in digital UV print applications. However, ?the growing use of UV curable ink requires a new approach in print head maintenance,? Padan said.
Shops spend time and thousands of dollars on print head maintenance. Yet, for various reasons, print head nozzles and delivery passages become clogged with UV ink and current print head cleaning and flushing options typically achieve 50 percent effectiveness, at best. Following traditional solvent-ink maintenance routines or using incompatible cleaners can make matters worse.
Padan recalled how recently in one shop, an incompatible cleaner was used and rendered all 16 print heads on its UV printer useless. ?The price of just one print head such as these can easily approach $5,000 to $7,000,? Padan said.
?Multiply that by 16 and replacing those heads becomes very costly. Using our multi-stage cleaning process, we were able to fully recover all 16 heads. We did it for a tiny fraction of the new-head cost and with a very short turnaround time, too.?
While this may have been an extreme case, Padan said that although UV print head clogging problems are common, as the industry learns how to properly maintain their printers the overall maintenance costs will be lowered. Efforts to address these issues by Padan and other UV ink specialists at INX Digital?s R & D Center have intensified in the past two years.
Unlike solvent inks which have traditionally dominated the digital marketplace, UV inks cannot be dissolved once they have cured. ?They are very chemically resistant,? Padan said. ?This is a ?plus? on UV-printed media, but it?s a real problem when cured ink clogs print head nozzles and passages.?
UV lamps used to instant-cure inks on media are one of a few items that can cause UV to destabilize and start to cure. Mixing it with incompatible fluids or with water can initiate the process, as will some traditional solvent-ink print shop methods such as capping or sealing the print head. With solvent inks, this is good because it keeps residual ink moist, but UV ink starts to cure due to lack of oxygen.
According to Padan, even exposure to high temperatures (over 140° F or 60° C) can initiate curing. This can occur if an inadequately cooled UV bulb is in proximity to a print head, or if the print head temperature control unit fails. Whether it is caused by these or other factors, a cost-effective solution for UV ink-clogged print head-aches is now available.
As with Triangle inks themselves, new patent-pending UV HeadCure technology is designed to work with virtually any print head type, said Padan. All Triangle cleaning and flushing options for day-to-day print-shop use are designed to be compatible with correlating Triangle inks. Sooner or later, more-thorough service inevitably is needed.
?Our Print Head Cleaning Program has been in place for years, serving primarily solvent-ink customers,? Padan said. ?Achieving and perfecting this breakthrough in UV print head cleaning technology enables us to offer a vital service with huge financial advantages for digital printing operations. It?s a service not available anywhere else.?