HomeNews › Flint Group launches Ultraking® XCURA LED, the next generation of UV LED curing ink technology for Sheetfed offset applications
 
23-01-14
Member news news

Flint Group launches Ultraking® XCURA LED, the next generation of UV LED curing ink technology for Sheetfed offset applications

UV LED curing technologies represent the most significant development in energy curing for years. This technology demands an evolutionary change in ink chemistry and Ultraking® XCURA LED is a perfect example of Flint Group’s continuing commitment to providing innovative solutions to new trends in the printing industry.

Following the December 2013 launch of Ultraking® XCURA a brand new system of low energy UV curing highly reactive inks and coatings, Flint Group is now launching the newest member of the XCURA family - Ultraking XCURA® LED

“There are many factors weighing on the efficiency and benefit of using traditional UV curing in the printing process” Explains Rodney Balmer Director of Global Research and Product Development, Flint Group “The fact the lamps contain mercury, require exhausts for the ozone they produce, need cooling and are actually relatively inefficient, typically utilising less than 15% of the energy produced, makes the search for alternative technologies all the more attractive. One of the first technologies to reduce the drawbacks of UV is LED curing”

Ultraking® XCURA LED utilises specially selected materials to match the narrow and targeted wavelength (395nm) that is typical for high power UV LED lamp output. “UV LED lamp technology utilises high power light that emits diode technology, which requires significantly less energy to operate than traditional UV. This results in as much as 40% reduction in energy costs.” Said Balmer.

Because of the targeted wavelength at 395nm, both ozone and heat generation are eliminated, resulting in a safer working environment and ability to print heat sensitive substrates. UV LED offers additional advantages over traditional UV like instant on/off, significantly longer lamp life (20,000 hours vs 2,000) and low maintenance.

Flint Group is not new to UV LED either. In September 2013, after more than two years of development work, Flint Group Narrow Web won an Award for Innovation at The Label Industry Global Awards, for its EkoCure™ UV LED ink technologies. Winning the award proved that Flint Group UV LED product development has been recognised as a true innovation that will lead the industry into the future.

Ultraking® XCURA LED products have high colour strength, display excellent ink/water stability and require lower levels of energy to operate. They also comply with ISO 2846-1 and are suitable for printing to ISO 12647-1 standards.

Jim Buchanan, Business Director UV Sheetfed and Key Accounts is enthusiastic about what this means to the commercial print sector, “There are long term cost advantages with UV LED compared to traditional UV, and with energy curing’s instant drying offering faster turnaround of work, the door is open for conventional commercial printers to adopt this technology. Retro-fitting of LED lamps is very easy, and takes less than a day, while the R.O.I. on a 5 unit + coater B1 press can be under 12 months. This means Ultraking® XCURA LED brings the perfect balance of press stability, cure speed and increased opportunities to the commercial print market.

We believe the impact of LED will be equally profound in the packaging sector. Heat can be a major problem with traditional UV printing, but LED technology generates minimal heat. As a result the carton will not dry out, so moisture is retained in the stock, making it much easier to handle and with less likelihood of ink cracking or trouble with score lines. Also, traditional UV bulbs have a limited life of around 1,000 to 2,000 hours, but they start to degrade and age the moment they are installed on press. With typically two or three interdeck lamps, plus coating stations, this means the printer has to manage a series of lamps at different stages in their life. This leads to curing consistency issues that can’t easily be controlled. When printing food packaging using low migration UV inks, the inability to guarantee 100% cure is a real concern. LED lamps are either on or they are off, and don’t suffer from aging effect, so full cure is assured every time, over a much longer lamp life, which is a phenomenal advantage” Said Buchanan.

The Ultraking® XCURA LED product range includes standard process inks, a base mixing scheme, metallic inks, overprint varnish and there will soon be a low migration product available. Coupled with Varn Pressroom Chemistry and dayGraphica blankets, specially selected to work in Perfect Synergy with XCURA, printers adopting the new technology will quickly realise the full benefits to be gained from switching to LED.

“We are rolling-out Ultraking® XCURA LED across Europe as part of the global product launch, and this will culminate in a series of seminars to be held in key locations, in partnership with strategic OEMs, like Air Motion Systems” explains Buchanan.

Air Motion Systems is North America's leading manufacturer of high-performance UV LED and UV ARC lamp systems for the printing industry and is an important component of the technology drive into LED in Europe. Retro-fitting of LED lamps onto existing conventional or UV presses, by suppliers like AMS is straight-forward and Flint Group is well placed to support the process. Steve Metcalf, President and CEO of AMS had this to say "Flint Group’s experience with early-generation H-UV and LE-UV inks along with their success in pioneering UV LED Flexo inks has propelled them into the next-generation of offset LED, where high-speed drying can be realised without the costs or concerns of mercury, ozone and bulb-life. XCURA LED, combined with Flint Group’s size and global scale, significantly opens the market availability of next-generation LED UV technology for printers everywhere".

“Working alongside LED technology experts such as AMS is a core theme of our business development strategy. The planned seminars will serve to educate potential LED users, as well as those who are already converted. LED is a real step change for our industry and we at Flint Group are proud to be vanguards of the revolution!” declared Buchanan.

Ultraking® XCURA LED is commercially available now! Please contact your local sales representative for further information, or email printmedia.eu@flintgrp.com.