Star product: Benford Dual UV

By Barney Cox, Wednesday 06 March 2013

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A retrofittable UV curing system


Benford Dual UV curing system

What does the product do?
It’s a retrofittable UV curing system that can cure both standard UV inks and coatings and the latest generation of low-energy inks, known as highly reactive inks, that were developed for LED UV curing. The product is designed to help those keen to benefit from the up-to-75% energy savings offered by low-energy inks, but dissatisfied with the speed at which LEDs can cure them. While LEDs are finding favour in digital wide-format and narrow-web label machines, Benford UV managing director Marc Boden says "LEDs are not quite powerful enough for the speeds of sheetfed presses. They’re not feasible yet".

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?
Launched at the end of 2012, the Dual UV system is aimed at firms adding UV curing to their presses that want to be ready for low-energy inks, but also want to work with proven UV technology. Although most UV conversions to date have been for packaging and board applications, the need for instant drying on paper is garnering interest as printers look for ways to cut turnaround times to improve competitiveness against digital print. That’s how Komori has positioned its similar K-UV system.

How does it work?
The middle row of the curing unit is fitted with special mercury vapour lamps. These bulbs produce the sharper, narrower peak of UV needed to cure low-energy inks. However, for conventional UV inks and coatings, the other two rows of lamps have conventional bulbs.

How fast is it?
Benford says that the curing power, whether using conventional or highly reactive inks, can keep up with the fastest output of any press.

What is the USP of the product?
Flexibility. Whereas most other systems are suitable for either standard or highly reactive UV inks, users of this system can operate standard lamps for normal UV inks, or the special lamps for highly reactive inks.

How easy is it to use?
The system integrates with press controls, and a touchscreen display is used to control the system. Installation typically takes three days.

What training and service support is on offer?
Users can change the lamps themselves. Lamp life is a minimum of 1,000 hours, just like standard UV bulbs, and they cost the same too – £160. Boden cautions that anyone switching to highly reactive inks needs to pay attention to ambient UV. That means shields on the ducts, ensuring strip lighting is UV free and putting UV film on the windows.

How much does it cost?
A configuration for a six-colour B1, the most common request, is £100,000. A B2 costs £90,000 and B3 £70,000. This will quickly be paid for in energy reductions, says Boden. Based on a B1 machine running 24 hours a day 340 days per year, the 75% reduction in energy consumption works out at £75,000 per year – taking bills down to £25,000 per year. Highly reactive inks command a 10%-15% premium, but even so, the electricity savings should dwarf ink costs.

How many have been installed worldwide and in the UK?
Two Dual UV systems have been installed in Canada. Any future Benford installations can take advantage of the Dual UV configuration. It’s also technically possible to retrofit the low-energy bulbs to an existing Benford system, although it does require some modification.

"It’s not just a case of plugging in the new lamps; it needs a special power supply," says Boden. He estimates the cost would be £40,000. 

Description Retrofittable UV curing system combining standard UV lamps and narrow-band lamps for highly reactive low-energy inks and coatings
Compatibility Litho and flexo sheetfed and offset presses of widths of 230-2,050mm
Price B1 £100,000, B2 £90,000, B3 £70,000
Contact Benford UV 01494 715936

Heidelberg DryStar LE UV
Taking a similar approach to Benford, Heidelberg uses conventional lamps, including one with a narrow spectrum to cure normal and highly reactive UV inks. Aimed at commercial printers wanting to use UV, only available on the XL 75 and 105.
Price: Dependent on machine configuration
Contact: Heidelberg UK 0844 892 2010

Komori H-UV
Komori’s H-UV technology is at the heart of its offset-on-demand concept for competing against digital for on-demand work. Like Benford it uses metal-halide bulbs with a narrower spectrum for highly reactive inks, but lacks the standard lamps. A big success in Japan, the first two UK installs are imminent. Komori is also working on a retrofit kit.
Price: Dependent on machine configuration
Contact: Komori UK 0113 823 9200

Ryobi LED UV
First shown at Ipex 2010, Ryobi’s LED UV technology has come of age since, with nine vendors now supplying inks and higher energy LEDs capable of curing paper, board and plastic.
Price Dependent on machine configuration
Contact Apex Digital Graphics 01442 235236

"The system is really user-friendly and works well. Benford exceeded my expectations; I received a better service than if the system was built next door"          
Giancarlo Mirabelli Vice-president of operations, Imprimerie Group Deux

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