Three Printers Detail How LED-UV Curing Retrofits Transformed Their Businesses in AMS Spectral UV-Sponsored Webinar

A panel of executives from three printing companies shared, during a recent webinar, how they have leveraged LED-UV curing retrofits on their sheetfed and web offset lithographic presses to increase throughput, quality, and job turnaround. 

The virtual panel discussion was presented by AMS Spectral UV — A Baldwin Technology Company, whose X Series LED-UV technology was chosen by all three printers, in partnership with Printing Impressions magazine, on Nov. 5. For those who missed it live, the interview is available for convenient on-demand replay, accessible by clicking here.

The lineup of expert speakers included Paul DeSantis of ANRO Inc. (West Chester, Pa.), which specializes in turnkey solutions for corporate printing, direct mail, online print management solutions, fulfillment, graphic design, and digital communication services; John Dahlke of commercial printer VISOgraphic Printing (Addison, Ill.), focused on marketing collateral and direct mail; and Kent Tucker of Tucker Castleberry (Atlanta), which provides printing, direct mail, and marketing.   

AMS Spectral UV’s LED-UV systems for printing are predominantly used in sheetfed offset and web lithography, as well as for flexographic and label printing, to cure inks and coatings to produce top-quality printed materials and enhance productivity.  

The panelists shared their experiences regarding how LED-UV retrofits have increased production throughput 30%, 50%, and 100% on the same equipment; cut turnaround times in half; and helped win new business. They also discussed how the technology has opened doors to high-margin special effects and expanded production to substrates that are traditionally more difficult to print and dry. Additionally, the printing pros detailed how LED-UV curing has removed variables that compromise consistent quality production.  

Extensive research led VISOgraphic to Baldwin Technology four years ago, which sold the printer on the benefits of LED-UV. The printer purchased a 40˝, six-color RMGT 10 Series press with coater, retrofitted with AMS Spectral UV’s LED-UV curing technology.  

It delivered everything it promised, according to John Dahlke, which led to VISOgraphic’s recent purchase of an RMGT 9 Series five-color plus coater, also fitted with LED-UV. Among the many benefits Dahlke detailed is how LED-UV enabled VISOgraphic to venture beyond primarily commercial work to a mix of higher-margin plastics, print embellishments, and packaging. 

“One of the values we saw right away is a lot of these jobs are running on really light stocks with 300% coverage in coating. The press couldn't run fast because that ink was just diving in the sheet. It was causing a lot of issues in the delivery, so we really had to slow down,” he recalled. “When we went to LED, we could forgo coating in some of those situations and the delivery was not a problem, essentially, anymore so we could have faster run speeds.” 

VISOgraphic gained the confidence to pursue different substrates such as mirror board and glama natural that it had shied away from when it was running a conventional drying system.  

“We’ve had zero problems in all the packaging, from blister packs to reticulation coatings and plastics,” Dahlke remarked. “We've gone after everything we can.” 

Kent Tucker said Castleberry retrofitted a six-color 40-inch Manroland sheetfed press in January 2019 and instantly gained efficiency by running at 30% to 40% faster press speeds because LED-UV curing eliminated the concern of marking in the delivery.   

A key takeaway that Tucker emphasized was the immediate buy-in from his press operators. 

“Our pressmen are not shy. They'll let us know if they're not happy. After a few weeks of having the LED, they said, ‘This is a game-changer … our lives are so much easier,’” Tucker noted. “I think the bindery would probably say the same thing. These guys, they literally just shut down the press. They can go home for the weekend, and the ink stays in the fountain. Come back in, Monday morning, and fire it up. Our guys are all in. In fact, they're begging us to retrofit our other press for LED or buy a new press. It's been a home run throughout the plant.” 

Paul DeSantis said ANRO Inc. converted a nine-color Heidelberg Speedmaster press with a dedicated curing tower to LED-UV two years ago. The primary goal was to extend the equipment’s lifespan while diversifying product offerings, but he reports the company benefited in many other ways. 

“It also complimented our wide-format digital environment, so we got a lot of synergies from adopting the technology there,” he pointed out. “A lot of direct mail printing takes place here, so a lot of unique substrates that we need to print … it really helped us in that area, too.” 

DeSantis applauded the “digital-like” efficiency ANRO has achieved through the LED-UV upgrade among its many advantages.  

“When you're running lightweight stocks or super-heavy coverage or 24-point board, we really had to slow the machine down, because we were worried about scuffing and picking and delivery issues,” he recalled. “When we put the LED in, we were able to go at full speed immediately, and it didn't matter what kind of substrate we were running, what kind of ink coverage it was -- 300% ink coverage with coating on plastic. We could cure everything with one lamp in the delivery. Really, it was a dramatic effect for us, right off the bat.” 

Another big advantage for ANRO by using UV-LED is that the pages come off the back of the press dry. “Being a perfector, you're printing on both sides of the paper, and on a large job like, for example you're printing a book, those stacks of paper would be all over the shop, waiting to cure before we could go into finishing,” he commented. “Now those things are flowing right through. A skid comes off; they'll wrap that skid right away and ship it out to the binder if it's going out. Those types of efficiencies are very digital-like.” 

Click here to replay the live webinar to hear the printers share their experiences by retrofitting their presses with LED-UV, as well as the discussion and Q&A. The webinar will be hosted for on-demand viewing for a limited time longer.