What is the difference between LED-UV and UV printing?

The fundamental difference between the UV and LED-UV is the light source. LED-UV generates an energy wavelength from light-emitting diodes (LED) at a light spectrum between 385 – 395nm (nanometers.) Traditional UV produces an energy wavelengths between 260nm and 440nm from a mercury-vapor bulb. UV is far less efficient because only part of the wavelength generated is used to cure inks and adhesives. The unused portion is infrared energy that creates significant heat and ozone.

What is the difference between LED-UV and conventional inks?

Traditional inks are solvent-based and dry when chemicals evaporate over time. LED-UV inks are dried (cured) instantly using UV light.

Is the process of LED-UV printing significantly different than printing with conventional inks?

LED-UV and conventional printing are virtually the same, however, like with most new technologies, there tends to be a short learning period.

Do I have to buy a new press to be a LED-UV printer?

No, LED-UV and traditional UV curing units can be retrofitted to most existing presses.

Do I have to switch ink rollers to print LED-UV?

Yes, LED-UV inks tend to cause traditional rollers to swell and shrink. Plus, they will make it difficult to maintain the proper ink/water balance and generate additional heat from friction. There are two types of LED-UV rollers: EPDM for printing LED-UV exclusively, and Mixed-mode rollers for switching between LED-UV and conventional inks.

Can I use my existing print blankets?

No, LED-UV requires special blankets. Just like the rollers, EPDM blankets are used to print LED-UV exclusively, and a hybrid blanket is used for Mixedmode printing.

Can I use a conventional press and blanket wash with LED-UV?

No, a specific UV compatible wash is required because LED-UV rollers and blankets have a different rubber composition compared to conventional print rollers and blankets.

Do LED-UV inks really cost twice as much as conventional inks?

LED-UV inks tend to be more expensive than conventional inks, however, the cost of ink typically represents only 1% - 2% of the total cost of any print job. Plus, there are several factors that offset the additional cost. LED-UV inks increase the “mileage per pound” of ink especially when printing on offset stocks because LED-UV inks are cured immediately on the surface of the substrate, minimizing absorption. Also, as more printers continue to adopt LED-UV technology, ink prices will continue to drop. (The price of LED-UV inks has dropped by nearly 20% during the past 2 years.)