UV and IR for drying and curing printing ink

Printing press manufacturers integrate UV curing and IR drying to meet their customers’ production needs

Printing processes are among the earliest to use UV and IR systems due to the significant benefits such as increased print quality and production speeds while reducing VOCs and operating costs.

Depending on the specific print process and type of ink or overprint varnish (OPV), UV lamps, IR emitters, or even a combination of both, provide an efficient and reliable solution for curing and drying.

UV, IR, or both technologies

Example

Many factors such as print speed and quality, ink formulation, and functional use of the end product determine which technology to use for a given print process. Generally speaking:

  • IR drying is ideal for water-based inks and varnishes
  • UV curing is ideal for heat sensitive substrates, extremely fast production speeds, and/or products with high functional performance requirements (abrasion, solvent resistance). UV is also used for water-based inks.
  • Both UV curing and IR drying are especially beneficial for inline operations which immediately follow ink printing such as: overprint varnishes (OPV), adhesives, specialty coating stations i.e., scratch-off tickets, printed electronics

A hybrid solution, a press with both UV and IR capabilities, provides the most flexibility for printers running both UV-curable and water-based inks. For UV water-based inks, the press needs IR to drive off the water prior to UV curing.

Print processes using UV curing and IR drying

Application examples:

  • Digital inkjet printing for direct mail, labels, printed electronics, packaging and advertising
  • Screen printing on textiles, scratch-off tickets, glass and plastic
  • Flexo printing on napkins, labels, packaging films, and lottery tickets
  • Sheetfed and web offset printing of brochures, magazines and packaging
  • Overprint varnish on brochures, magazines, cartons, labels