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Flexibility in Ink

UV-Curable Extends its Reach

Part 1 of 2

By Gretchen A. Peck

The advent of UV-curable inks—and the digital inkjet printers that make use of them—have a profound impact on large format print.

UV inkjet’s reach is extending beyond traditional sign and large format graphics applications. "The advent of UV-curable technology allows companies and industries to print high-quality prints on various substrates including plastics, metals, and glass," reports Ken D. Kisner, president, INX Digital International Co.

He cites other industries such as the tag and label market investing in UV-curable technology for narrow web printing. Other companies are able to create prototypes on demand now as well, thanks to UV-curable ink.

Stephen Sung, Ph.D., UV technical and commercial director, Collins Ink Corporation, agrees with Kisner’s observation regarding the range of substrates UV adheres to, adding industrial-type items such as ceramics to the list.

The need for ink designed for hybrid printers calls for both a scratch-resistant and flexible ink for flatbed and roll-to-roll printing, respectively. Interestingly, the ability to stretch printed materials without ink cracking, or also referred to as increased flexibility, is another characteristic of importance for DO readers. Tied with improved UV stability at 18 percent, many PSPs take ink flexibility seriously and acknowledge UV as a solution that caters to this need.

Several ink manufacturers are working on increasing the flexibility of ink. "It usually requires two types of inks to ensure flexibility and scratch resistance; however, Bordeaux Digital PrintInk Ltd. created inks to solve this issue, with our product designation Plasma PLFx. This UV-curable ink is designed to work well on both flatbed and roll-to-roll printers," says Steve Igoe, North American sales manager, Bordeaux.

New this year, Agfa Graphics distributes UV flexible inks that are 40 percent more flexible than the company’s current selection of UV inks, with no compromises to adhesion or color quality. They are compatible with all Agfa :Anapurna M series printers. "These inks allow users to expand into new applications and print on a wide range of substrates, which in the end will help users grow business," shares Michael White, wide format sales manager, Agfa.

"There are improvements in UV ink components, such as a high degree of flexibility. However, one of the biggest pitfalls is the skin-irritation factor during handling. A good printer system should have enough safeguards built in to avoid this," explains Sung.

Next week read about other revolutionary inks in the graphic arts, including latex.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Mar2010, Digital Output

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