We've invested considerably in setting up to print with UV flexographic systems, which can image on various substrates, then cure the ink quickly using ultraviolet light (UV). And we do mean quickly!
We're using the latest technology developed by a British firm called GEW, an engineering company that specializes in efficient UV curing systems for both inks and coatings (like over-laminates and varnishes). Our equipment doesn't dry ink: it cures it. So what does that mean? Basically, exposure to UV light triggers a chemical reaction in the ink that hardens it almost instantly. Why bother? Several reasons. Old-style ink dries through an evaporative process, losing up to 40% of its volume in the process. With curing, there's no loss of volume. Among other things, this means that the finished labels look cleaner and sharper. In addition, UV flexo-inks are more durable than water-based inks, and resist heat, abrasion and chemicals better. UV curing also makes cleaning and maintaining our printing equipment easier, since the ink doesn't harden until it's exposed to intense UV light at very close range. All this saves money for us, and we pass those savings on to you.
Furthermore, most of the inks we pour contain automotive pigments, making them UV stable. That means our labels won't fade if they're exposed to sunlight. Also, because UV inks are 100% solid, color consistency is superior to that of water-based systems. UV inks also have reduced dot gain, meaning a better quality print. All this makes printing with UV curing the next best thing to screen-printing systems in terms of achieving longevity.
However, our advantage isn't just the quality of products that UV curing produces, but also the speed at which it produces them. Our UV lamps can cure ink in labels passing by at more than 200 meters (650 feet) per minute. In the litho world, that equates to about 43,000 impressions an hour. Or imagine a laser printer printing over 700 letter-size sheets a minute! Get the picture? It's fast, to say the least, and this also enables us to be more cost effective, given the time saved.
Lastly, from an environmental standpoint, UV curing uses less energy to operate than old-style infrared and hot air drying systems. When you take everything into account, UV curing is simply the way to go.