“The future of litho will be LED, and everyone will follow Ryobi’s lead. We’re 100% committed to this technology and convinced it’s absolutely right for the UK commercial market,” said Apex managing director Bob Usher.
Apex and Sakurai were until recently the only two press manufacturers to offer factory-fitted LED-UV technology in the UK, but following KBA’s recent tie-up with AMS for LED, Usher said he expects at least two more major press manufacturers to launch LED presses in the future – but he highlighted that Ryobi already has a six-year head start.
“The fact that we have had the technology since Drupa 2008, have 150 presses installed worldwide and have developed an unrivalled understanding of it, means that we’re the first port of call if people want discover the benefits LED can offer,” said Usher.
A B2 Ryobi 755G with LED-UV will take centre stage at next month’s Print Efficiently, which is being hosted at Apex’s Hemel Hempstead headquarters.
However, the firm has already hosted a number of private demonstrations on the press, which was installed earlier this summer, and Usher said he was confident of securing its first UK deals for the LED-UV enabled presses in the “very near future”.
According to Usher, as well as offering a number of benefits over conventional litho drying systems, such as significantly reduced energy bills and negating the need for spray powder, the fact that print can be finished straight off the press means LED can also challenge high-speed digital technology for non-variable data jobs.
“With inkjet technology you might have a very expensive press that ties you to one ink supplier and can only rattle out perhaps 2,000 or 3,000sph, with the Ryobi it runs out 16,000sph and there’s nothing to stop customer adding Prosper inkjet digital heads to it either through our joint venture with Kodak,” said Usher.
According to Usher, one of the hold-ups on the adoption of LED technology in the UK, compared with Japan and mainland Europe, was the availability of inks, but with major players including Flint, Sun Chemical and Toyo now offering high-reactive inks in the UK then it should no longer be an issue.
Apex sales and marketing director Neil Handforth added that the extra cost of LED-UV systems is also no longer a barrier to adopting the technology.
“80%-85% of printers only spec their new press with an extra unit to dry jobs, but the approximate cost of a coating unit with an IR dryer is pretty much the same as having LED-UV. And if you have LED-UV you often don’t need an extra unit for coating.
“Then you have the power savings of an LED unit, which by our calculations over five years would pay for the LED unit aone, that’s before you even take into account the productivity benefits of instant drying,” said Handforth.
According to Usher Ryobi has also worked hard to fully develop LED technology and while he admitted that early systems could only cope with a relatively limited range of substrates, this had also been expanded.
“In the early days you could only cure certain substrates to a certain weight. At Ipex 2010 we had a new, more powerful LED technology that meant you could move the light source further away from the substrate and cure anything from NCR to heavyweight stocks of up to 600gsm and also plastics.
“Suddenly LED is now applicable to every market.”
As well as the Ryobi 755G with LED-UV, Apex, which is also a UK dealer for Konica Minolta, will demonstrate a number of new products at the six-day Print Efficiently event, including the new Konica Minolta Bizhub C1100 and the Ipex launched Bizhub C1060.