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According to Dunklee, inks designed for mercury arc curing typically have a blend of photoinitiators that respond to many different wavelengths simultaneously, and some contain an initiator that reacts to the specific wavelength being output by an LED lamp. However, the cure may not be as efficient or complete if the ink has been exposed to a multi-chromatic UV bulb. “This situation can lead to two problems. If the ink doesn’t contain a photoinitia- tor that can react to the LED wavelength, it will not cure. If the ink does contain a photoinitiator that can react, the question becomes one of having enough initiator in the formula to fully cure the ink,” he adds. Influences on a Wide Scale UV ink is influenced by a number of factors. Customer demand and new appli- cations propel advancements in this field. Additionally, enhancements to hardware require improved ink compositions. “The increasing demand for more in- novative solutions, including hardware, printheads, and accessories, influences the development of digital UV inks. Compe- tition within this market constantly drives product development,” shares Roberts. Rockow says Collins’ customers—the users of the inks, are driving the achieve- ments. “When they use an ink that won’t adhere to a new substrate, cracks instead of bending, or doesn’t cure well with their printer, we develop one.” “It is the market opportunities for using UV-curable ink that influence innovation and creativity in formulating new technol- ogy,” agrees Reid. Eyal Duzy, marketing segment manager, HP Scitex worldwide, Hewlett-Packard (HP), points to new applications like corrugated displays and boxes. “Stacking high stacks of printed media, folding with no cracking, creasing with no scratching or smearing, and cutting with no chip- ping calls for great durability and high flexibility from the ink set.” Matching the ink to the hardware is still top priority. “The requirements of the printhead remain one of the primary considerations in developing inks. If the physical properties aren’t matched—noth- ing works. The fine detail comes later but viscosity is still the first thing. The internal flow paths in the printhead affect formulation choice as the pulse input is transmitted through the architecture and the ink fluid,” explains Saunders. generally more affordable. Although, he points out that in some cases—such as metallic or special col- ors—those raw materials may be more expensive, which translates to higher specialized ink costs. The printheads’ ability to jet smaller dots also plays a role. “As the technology advances and the sizes of the droplets fall to two to five picoliter, the ink must be developed to work in these newer printheads. Every year the speed at which these printers print increases and as such you must have an ink that can keep up with the demand of these new high-speed printhead technologies,” says McGettrick. UV technology is becom- ing widespread and in recent years there have been a number of alternative options available to PSPs in the form of third-party inks. “The introduction of quality non-OEM inks influences the prices of wide format ink for every technology including UV,” cites Evron. Reid agrees, citing specifics such as smaller drop size, higher frequency, addressable resolution, and single pass compared to multi-pass applications. “The chemistry must keep up with hardware speeds, so jetting reliability is much more impor- tant in these new single-pass LED cure systems,” he continues. In addition to the printheads, other de- sign elements of a printer—such as build quality, how vibration is minimized, static reduction, and step accuracy—are critical to image quality and long-term perfor- mance, points out VanHorn. On a larger scale, forces outside of the graphic arts effect UV ink’s development. End customers demand “greener” output and while UV is designed in many respects to combat this, there is still room for improvement. “There are global regulations that effect UV ink enhancements, making them safer for customers to handle and for those who come in contact with the final printed graphics,” says Goodearl. The Cost of UV With compositional and usage modifica- tions, it is no surprise that the cost of UV ink continues to change as well. The price of UV ink is decreasing for two reasons— cost of materials and competition, which creates product volume. McGettrick explains that the raw materi- als used in the development of UV ink are Additional ink types are an influence on cost. “As other technologies continue to improve, it does drive down the price of UV ink. The customer is aware of the roll-to-roll cost of latex versus UV,” shares Larson. This price decrease will continue, foresees Salomon. “Cost per square foot has come down and probably will continue as the display graphics industry main- streams into the general printing world, which has been more of a commodity for a while. This industry has moved from being a niche or specialty to a manufacturing business.” Critical Segment UV ink will play an impor- tant role in the direction of the graphic arts. Changes in the ink’s chemical composition mean a wider variety of substrates can be printed to without damag- ing a print. This expan- sion of printable materials presents PSPs with new opportunities. D #7 DO_15_12-2_UVRevFinal_SW.indd 15 December 2015 | Digital Output { 15 } 11/13/15 10:30 AM