HomeNews › ArcLED interchangeable UV systems create a path to full LED for Optikett GmbH
Member news

ArcLED interchangeable UV systems create a path to full LED for Optikett GmbH

Optikett began business in 1989 and were one of the first printers in Germany to produce labels using offset printing, as flexographic machines were unable to produce the necessary quality that their customers demanded at that time. With around 4,500 square metres of production space and 100 employees, the company has built its reputation through continuous investment in the latest machinery and technological advancements in UV flexo, UV offset and digital printing.

Situated in the city of Vechta in the Lower Saxony region, Optikett print for many leading brands in Germany and in Europe. 80% of their labels go into the food sector, with the remainder supplied to the logistics, healthcare, pharmacy and home care industries.

The company has worked with GEW UV curing systems for more than 20 years. Daniel Ostendorf, Managing Director at Optikett, explains where the partnership began: “My father established the company and the first press he bought was the Gallus EM280 with a GEW curing system. The experience with the GEW system, the durability and the maintenance cost, showed us then that GEW was the right partner for us.”

The production team at Optikett now use GEW’s interchangeable, cassette-based ArcLED lampheads, which means they can switch individual print stations from mercury arc to LED curing and vice versa, with the changeover taking just a few minutes. They have GEW systems installed on five presses, including E4C mercury arc cassettes and 36 LED cassettes.

Working with ArcLED systems has been a part of the business plan at Optikett for several years, for two reasons. Firstly, it allows them to continue to use mercury arc for certain special colours and coatings that are more expensive or are not readily available in LED-curable form. Secondly, it means that they will be able to easily upgrade to full LED curing when those inks and coatings become freely available, simply by upgrading their lamphead cassettes from E4C to GEW’s water-cooled LeoLED cassettes. Ostendorf shares his thoughts on the upgrade process to date: “The installation of the GEW system went very smoothly and GEW needed one day to install the new LED cassettes, with installation and testing.”

Here he demonstrates their faith in the newer LED technology: “Now on all machines we have the LeoLED system and all of our new machines will be equipped with LED. For the main range of colours we use the LED lamps but for some special colours or varnishes, we also need the E4C cassette. Now we can change the cassettes when we need, and when the special colours and varnish can be available then we will switch to full LED on all presses.”

The interchanging of arc and LED cassettes requires a single hex key, and is the only change necessary to switch technologies on a print station; both arc and LED cassettes are compatible with GEW’s RHINO power control system, which instantly and automatically switches the supply to either DC power for LEDs, or high voltage AC power for arc lamps.

Optikett’s decision to switch to LED was driven by several factors, including an increasing focus on sustainability from leading brands. As Ostendorf explains: “The decision to invest in the GEW system was for safer production, to increase the productivity and for the low cost of maintenance… but today the energy cost also is a very important factor. It's not only important for our customers to receive a product with a high quality, but also how sustainably we produce our labels.”

The company has taken advantage of an incentive scheme from the German government that financially assists energy-reduction initiatives such as their investment in LED technology. Combining this with the cost savings realised by LED, Ostendorf is confident of a relatively short ROI period: “We think that the return on investment of the five machines will take around three years. Also, the German government gives us a contribution for this investment because it's a benefit for our environment.”

Ostendorf summaries his thoughts on LED: “There are other reasons why we choose LED systems... less maintenance, less down times, no ozone in the production and no mercury. Experience shows us that we can print faster with LED, and the drying of dark inks is better than with normal UV.” He concludes: “To invest in LED systems is one of our best decisions that we have made.”