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January 2, 2013

What are the benefits of LED technology; can they cure my existing UV inks?

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) emit light when subjected to an electric current. The light that is generated consumes very little energy, and the diodes have an extremely long working life. One major benefit is they do not generate any ozone, unlike conventional UV lamps with mercury tubes. A typical LED-UV lamp system consists of numerous LED panels across a given press width and have multiple rows. The substrate can be very close to the LED panels since very little direct heat is generated.

Conventional UV lamps requires a warm-up phase before they can operate; LED-UV lamps has no waiting time and are ready to use immediately when they are switched on. LED-UV lamps only produce  a small range of the conventional spectrum of UV lamps and have no high-energy IR radiation or hazardous UV-B and UV-C radiation. LED UV cannot cure conventional UV inks due to the narrow wave length window of the LED-UV lamp, which peaks at 395 nm. It should be noted that being a new technology you will find the LED lamps and inks more expensive than your conventional UV technology. That said, the lower energy consumption (claimed at up to 80%), reduced need for sophisticated air exhaustion systems and their perceived safer operation for the operator and others around the printing press makes it a technology very well worth while considering.

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