From lamps to LED, the UV curing of IST Metz was at the centre of attention of 500 printers from around the world at the UV Days.

Single-source supplier of UV solutions Systems with LEDs and UV lamps for printing and other industries IST Metz develops, produces and sells systems to cure solvent-free inks, varnishes, adhesives and silicones in an environmentally-friendly manner. The focus of the business is on applications for the graphics industry. UV systems from IST Metz are also used in the automotive industry and in many other industrial coating applications. As a pioneer in UV, IST Metz GmbH has been setting industry standards for over 35 years. The group provides systems with both UV lamps and LEDs, developing and producing in-house all the UV system components which make up its immediate core competences. This includes for example reflectors, which have a significant impact on the quality and efficiency of a UV system. Their geometry and surface properties are key factors in determining the quantity of UV light on the substrate which can be used for curing. The use of raytracing software has facilitated the development of new LED lens systems from lenses specially designed to suit the application in question and resulting in an optimum light yield on the substrate. The UV Transfer Center (UVTC) at IST METZ provides both novices and experienced users of UV with an experienced partner to support them. The main task of the centre is to provide information and technical support around UV technology and its applications. The UVTC is equipped with appropriate printing and laboratory equipment, supports customers with any issues associated with UV technology and thus underlines its corporate philosophy of many years’ standing: „more than UV“.

The UV Days

Around 500 people worldwide work for the group, which was founded in 1977 and is based in Nürtingen in southern Germany; the group is now made up of 14 companies. IST Metz has international sales companies in France, England, Italy, the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, China, Thailand and Japan. A complementary network of agencies secures a global presence. With the acquisition of a majority shareholding in the British UV specialist Integration Technology Ltd. (ITL), IST Metz extended its portfolio of UV systems by more lamp and LED units for an even larger number of applications. In 2002, IST Metz started UV DAYS, the first international event to focus on UV printing. The unique feature of this in-house exhibition is its practical focus. Every two years, the latest UV developments in sheet-fed, web and digital printing are presented and exhibited live – to look at, to touch and to take away. At every exhibition, an in-house printed product highlights the versatility of UV technology – in the market segments of packaging printing, commercial printing and label printing, for example. With some 700 international visitors, the event is the largest of its kind in the world.

IST Metz is rocking the print world Printing technology you can touch at the in-house UV exhibition The world’s largest in-house exhibition of UV technology once again became the focus of the UV printing industry.  As a pioneer in UV, IST METZ GmbH has been setting industry standards for over 35 years. The group supplies curing systems with both UV lamps and LEDs.  The practical focus of UV DAYS is a unique feature. UV system manufacturer IST Metz demonstrated UV in sheet-fed, web and digital printing. A total of three presses were continuously printing products using UV – to look at, to touch and to take away. The in-house printed product highlights the versatility of UV technology – in the market segments of packaging printing, commercial printing and label printing, for example. In keeping with the motto “UV rocks!”, a cardboard guitar has been printed and finished live at the event on the company’s own sheet-fed offset press. It consists of two parts, the neck and the body, which are folded to make a 3 dimensional solid. The body has been printed during a live demonstration on the IST Metz in-house sheet-fed offset printing press, a Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102-7 LX. When curing inks and varnishes, particularly energy-efficient UV systems from IST Metz are used as interdeck dryers and for end-of-press drying. They ensure a high-quality printed image and filigreed varnishing effects on the guitar. Magenta, Yellow and Black are first printed on Avanta Image card in the format 70 x 100 cm. In the fourth printing unit, a matt varnish was partially applied. This is followed by an iriodin varnish and a sparkling varnish to create shimmering effects on parts of the guitar body. In the seventh printing unit, the structure of wood is imitated using a matrix. Finally, in the flexographic unit, a spot gloss varnish is applied to intensify the wood effect still further. UV interdeck dryers are used after printing units 4 and 6, and end-of-press drying takes place at the end of the in-line process. What makes this so special is that the impressive effects in IST’s usual high quality was this time be achieved through a combination of LED inks and UV varnishes. The process inks are LED inks; the in-line finishes are created using UV varnish systems. During the printing demonstration, curing with both UV lamp systems and LED systems has been shown, highlighting the respective strengths of each drying technology during the printing process. The frets on the neck of the paper guitar, which on the conventional instrument would be made of metal, will likewise be finished live at UV DAYS on an MGI 3D Jet Varnish iFOIL to achieve as realistic as possible a look and feel. A particularly thick layer of UV varnish of approx. 80 µm will be applied to achieve this. The sheet then runs through the unit for hot film application. The film adheres to the varnished parts of the printed sheet, creating raised areas on the printed guitar neck which can actually be felt. Just like the printed product demonstrated at UV DAYS 2013 – a packaging which received four awards – the guitar represents an impressive integrated product concept. Extra features will be added to this year’s UV printed product, further enhancing its functions. Any ordinary smartphone can be pushed into the folded head of the guitar. It is first clamped into a holder produced by the 3D printing process. The top of the head is closed with a cardboard tab. An app for Apple or Android devices developed specifically for the occasion can be loaded. It contains a game in which, similarly to when playing the guitar, the fingers of the left hand have to touch the correct strings to win points. In other words, the cardboard guitar really can be „played“ digitally using the app. But the guitar is not just for playing – it can also be used as a “loudspeaker”. To do this, it is set on end and the smartphone is once again inserted in the holder in the head of the guitar. A pattern has been laser-cut in the front of the body so that it works like a sounding board. “We are no longer focusing solely on providing information about UV printing, although that is, and will of course remain, our core competence,” explains Dirk Jägers, Managing Director of IST METZ GmbH. “These days, an attractive printed product has to have a harmonious overall concept to appeal to the consumer, especially in the more exclusive business segment. Printed products from our company demonstrate the latest possibilities.
The new innovation areas at UV DAYS suit this approach perfectly: partners will be presenting design trends here whilst experts demonstrate further areas of application for the use of UV systems – such as adhesives or water treatment with UV light, for example. These two areas covering new developments and trends will complement the exhibition by 35 partners from the printing industry. Another highlight this year is a new exhibition of printed products which have been presented with a “PrintStars” award by the Deutscher Drucker printing journal; this will include exhibits from IST Metz. The UV Lounge will also be returning this year, offering visitors somewhere to network with industry colleagues With around 700 guests over four days, UV DAYS is the largest event of its kind.

LED or UV lamp?

LED or UV lamp?  How does the curing of inks and varnishes with LED technology actually work? What are the differences between this and systems which use UV lamp technology? When is it worth switching?
IST Metz GmbH supplies both UV systems using medium-pressure mercury discharge lamps and UV LED systems. As a supplier of both technologies, the manufacturer of UV systems provides extensive expertise when advising on the system to suit the application in question. LED systems are ready for use as soon as they are switched on, very compact and can be lined up to create the desired width. It is also possible to activate just individual areas of LEDs in the system. No mercury is used and no ozone is produced; what is more, the pure, cold UV light of the LEDs gives off little heat to the substrate. LEDs have a particularly long life and the systems are infinitely dimmable. An exhaust air installation is not necessary in the case of pure water cooling. The key difference between highly-reactive LED inks and conventional UV inks is the photoinitiators, which are adapted to absorb at wavelengths >350 nm and thus to suit the emissions of the LED radiators. Other ink components such as binders or pigments are largely comparable with those of other UV inks.
The possibility of saving energy with LED systems is often discussed. „The more highly reactive ink does make it possible to save energy in principle“, says Stefan Feil, Director of Technical Marketing at IST METZ. However, a comparison between a conventional UV system and an LED system would have to take into account that this system also changes the chemistry of the inks. „An effective comparison needs to be made on the basis of a defined drying outcome, which in turn allows the necessary drying output to be deduced. Standby and production times and average print format also need to be taken into account to make the result meaningful“, continues Feil. IST METZ supplies a complete range of LED products. LUV® is the name of the newly developed water-cooled, high-performance LED system from IST Metz. Three system series guarantee optimum coordination of the various requirements of different applications. A newly-developed optical system with lenses specially designed to suit the application in question results in an optimum light yield on the substrate. The systems are available in different wavelengths, the standard being 385 nm. Water-cooling of the LED chips guarantees a high level of efficiency and system durability. The optimized optical system of the LUV® 20 increases output at a distance of 0 – 50 mm from the substrate. The system is used in web printing, for coatings and for marking and coding. The LUV® 80 is especially suitable for curing inks and varnishes at a distance of 40 – 100 mm from the substrate. It is used primarily in sheet-fed printing and for coating three-dimensional parts. At UV DAYS, the body of the paper guitar is cured this way as an example. The LUV® 5 is designed as an insert for use with LED-prepared systems. This system concept facilitates a straightforward switch from operation with a UV lamp system to LED technology. The MBS®-6 on which the concept is based is just one example of products for established UV lamp technology from IST Metz. The benefits of this technology are the broad availability of inks and varnishes and a wide range of lamps for a great many applications. Various forms of lamp doping, with iron or gallium for example, make it possible to modify the UV spectrum. This makes it straightforward to replace both UV lamp and reflectors. UV curing by lamp technology is furthermore an established process in the printing of food packaging. „It is virtually impossible to make a blanket statement about which technology is suitable for which application“, says Stefan Feil. „Advice and consideration of each individual case are essential in order to find the right system.“ UV light sources are currently used primarily in disinfecting, medicine, measuring equipment, security and curing. According to the Yole market research institute, LED technology is expected to achieve a market share of around 30 per cent in 2016, a significant rise compared to previous years. LED technology currently makes up the greatest proportion of adhesive curing and inkjet printing. The experts from IST METZ already have over 35 years’ experience in the development of UV systems. The UV Transfer Center looks after both novices and experienced users of UV to help them find the right system for their needs. IST METZ_UV DAYS 1

Hybrid solution

LED and UV lamp: a hybrid solution for UV printing Straightforward switch between lamp and LED technologies Sooner or later, LED technology will become an established part of narrow-web printing, but when exactly this will be remains to be seen. The application technology and economic aspects which play a role here are currently too complex. With the MBS® LED-prepared from IST Metz, users will be in a position to switch from established UV technology to the new technology at short notice and at any time. LED curing has already been successfully implemented in certain product segments – the UV inkjet sector, for example. This has also long been the case for large-format printing, and recently also for digital label printing by the UV inkjet method. At the same time, an increasing number of printing press manufacturers is now also promoting LED technology. However, when it comes to suitability for daily use in narrow web flexographic or offset printing presses, the efficiency of the LED systems still needs increasing for the majority of applications. Companies planning on investing in new printing technology may well see themselves faced with a dilemma. If they go for UV lamp units, they can rely on the security provided by a long-established technology. However, they may then miss their opportunity to make the most of LED technology. Users who focus on this new technology too soon run the risk of paying dearly as they wait for the rest of the market to catch up and finally make their investment in LED units economically worthwhile. The new „LED prepared“ concept from IST Metz relieves users of this decision. The manufacturer of UV systems from Nuertingen supplies a classic UV system already suitable for the use of LED technology. The user benefits from the linking of the two MBS® and LUV® product ranges. UV DAYS 2015 provides an exclusive look at the current state of development of this system. The hybrid solution is demonstrated on a narrow-web flexographic printing press with an operating width of 430 mm. The water-cooled LED UV units used here achieve an output of up to 12 W/cm². „When looking at this value, particular attention should be paid to the fact that the output is in the wavelength range of 385 nm“, says Stefan Feil, Director of Technical Marketing at IST Metz. „The output here should be rated significantly higher than for a comparable LED UV system which operates in the established range of 395 nm.” In addition to a better output yield, the shorter wavelength design above all opens up the benefits of formulating suitable inks and varnishes. „Use of LED technology is within reach for narrow-web printing“, continues Stefan Feil. „As soon as efficient operation as well as technical feasibility can be guaranteed, LED is sure to achieve a breakthrough where it makes sense. The benefits of hybrid solutions will play out. With the „LED prepared“ concept, printing houses are ready and waiting for this moment.” The new generation of the MBS® product family is equipped with the Smart Control system user interface. This makes the operation of UV systems clear, it is easy to use and it allows straightforward integration in the control systems of all common kinds of printing press. Smart Control will gradually become available for all new UV systems made by IST Metz.

UV Installations used for the demonstrations:
Flexo Testing Machine 1x MBS®, water-cooled 1x LUV® 5, water-cooled
Heidelberg Speedmaster CD 102-7 LX 2x Zwischentrocknung, water-cooled 1x Endtrocknung, water-cooled 1x LUV® 80, water-cooled
MGI Jet Varnish 3D iFOIL 1x MBS®-5 LI, air-cooled