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14 Common Misconceptions About UV LED Curing

14 Common Misconceptions About UV LED Curing

1. UV Led Curing Doesn’t Work At A Distance

Most presses require clearances thought to be too wide for LED curing to properly work. Traditional LED systems lacked the optics to generate the heat needed for curing at a distance. Air Motion Systems, however, has developed a system called Peak Optics. It can cure at any point in the press with a fraction of the energy used by mercury or H-UV lamps.

2. UV LED Curing Doesn’t Work With Most Presses

Some people assume that LED curing is such a specialized technology that it doesn’t work with most offset presses. That’s simply not true. Air Motion Systems LED lamps work with almost every press on the market today – including Akiyama, Heidelberg, Komori, Sakurai – KBA, Manroland, Ryobi and Mitsubishi. They’re easy to install and widely compatible.

3. LED Units Waste Power

Because of the challenges in designing LED curing that is powerful enough to cure at a distance, some people think that LED curing uses as much power as mercury or H-UV lamps. This isn’t true. The LED units designed by Air Motion Systems are actually quite efficient and powerful; they use only about 50% of the power necessary for other lamps. This is made possible in part by their use of segmented power, which allocates resources intelligently based on where it is needed.

4. LED systems are inflexible

Because the technology is cutting-edge and fairly new, one incorrect assumption about LED curing systems is that they are large, unwieldy, and inflexible. Nothing could be further from the truth. The LED curing units developed by Air Motion Systems work with every size of paper, from small sheets to much larger formats. They’re fully programmable, allowing for granular intensity control, and they take up a small footprint in your production space.

5. LED systems are difficult to install

LED systems, in addition to working with many different kinds of printing presses, are easy to install with most presses. They’re easily swapped in and out at different points along the press. Air Motion Systems has LED modules designed to work with most major presses and works hand-in-hand with the companies developing those presses to stay up to date and ensure that installation remains easy.

6. You need to use spray powder or heat to accelerate the drying process when using LED

Conventional curing methods take time to dry. This process can be sped up a couple of ways. One is through application of heat. Another is by using spray powder to create a layer of air between individual sheets, which allows them to dry without accidental transfer of ink from one sheet to the next.

When curing with LED technology, no spray powder or heat is required. The process doesn’t need cylinder jackets, either, which can quickly drive up the cost of a printing system and often break down. LED eliminates these problems: no powder or cylinder jackets are needed. It works well with polymer ink for almost any stock type. That includes matte, paperboard, gloss, uncoated offset, foil-laminated, and more.

7. You have to compromise printing quality to print in LED

LED curing and polymer inks are unfamiliar to many. This does not compromise printing quality. Instead, polymer and LED can achieve higher levels of gloss, color fidelity and sharpness. This is achieved through trapping and curing the ink through flash heating on the stock. The polymer chain created through this process is waterproof and resists most solvents. This process can be taken further to flood or coat the sheets if you’re trying to create something like a restaurant menu.

8. LED curing is no more wasteful than traditional methods when it comes to varnishes

Traditional oil-based printing creates varnishes and coatings that are wasteful – they require thousands of gallons of water and a huge amount of energy in order to varnish printed materials. LED curing, as discussed above, creates a natural polymer seal through flash heating.This means that the additional process of adding a varnish is no longer needed, thereby saving thousands of gallons of water and energy. If a coating is necessary – for design reasons, for example – one can be added after the fact by means of a coating tower.

9. LED printing has the same heat problems as conventional methods.

Curing via H-UV and mercury generates a lot of heat. This can have manifold consequences for the materials that are being cured – heat can curl stocks, cause registration issues with heat-sensitive substrates, and suck moisture out of paper. Traditional curing methods also generate terrible smells. LED curing methods, however, suffer from none of these problems. They also reduce risk of fire for the press and other maintenance problems associate with heat.

10. LED and conventional methods are comparable in terms of environmental contamination

Traditional curing methods have a major drawback: the risk of ozone or mercury contamination. Both are potentially devastating. Mercury contamination can cause brain damage, and most mercury lamps will be phased out over the next decades. Ozone contamination burns a hole in the atmosphere. Neither are a risk with LED.

11. UV LED curing is less durable compared to other methods

How many hours can you squeeze from UV LED lamps? The models put out by Air Motion Systems promise 20,000 hours of steady energy output. Traditional LED lamps, in comparison, last for 2,000 hours. And other lamps go for even less – 650 hours per lamp.

12. UV LED lamps take time to warm up.

Put simply, they don’t. There are no shutters associated with LED diodes. That means that they turn on instantaneously, have no warm-up or cool-down cycle, and require no shutter maintenance whatsovever. That cuts down on squandered time between cycles, making UV LED the most efficient choice available.

13. LED units are limited to the same substrates as traditional methods

Printing presses are traditionally limited to printing onto substrates that absorb ink. Because LED units create a layer of polymers on top of the substrate, they can be used for printing onto materials that are impossible with normal presses, including plastics and other materials.

14. LED units face the same limitations when it comes to high-end printing effects

The applications of UV LED curing methods are still being explored. Nevertheless, UV LED systems are already capable of achieving high-end printing effects that aren’t possible with traditional printing methods, like drop-off (also known as strike through). As the technology matures, these applications are likely to be expanded.

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