Ultra Violet (UV) inks are one of the growth areas in printing and packaging. They are part of the family of Energy Curable inks, that are set when they are transformed into solids by UV or Electron Beam radiation, unlike solvent based inks that dry by evaporation. UV advantages include:
- Less VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released, a benefit for the environment.
- Printing on non-absorbent substrates like metal or plastic, as well as on paper.
However, a barrier to the wider adoption of this technology has been the lack of knowledge about best practices and trouble-shooting; particularly as UV typically requires closer tolerances and stricter printing procedures that some conventional printers have found difficult to implement. These issues are being addressed by the new EncuPack (Energy Curable Packaging) project that is being funded by the European Union’s EuroStars R&D program.
A group of industry and research organizations have joined forces to develop a training simulator and a diagnostic (trouble-shooting) help system — both based on a set of structured expertise and press tests. The partners for the EuroStars project include:
· MetaPrint: Leading metal decoration printer in Estonia,
· Sinapse Print Simulators: Process modelling and diagnostic systems - France
· Grenoble INP-Pagora : Print and materials research - France
In addition, a select group of leading industrial companies working with UV have joined the project as “sponsors” to contribute their specialized expertise and to insure that the project results are robust, realistic, and reusable. These sponsors include:
· Felix Böttcher: Rollers, Blankets, Chemicals - Germany
· IST-Metz : UV and Energy Curing technology - Germany
· KBA MetalPrint: Sheetfed Offset Presses for Metal Decorating - Germany
· UPM-Kymmene: Paper Production - Finland
· Zeller & Gmelin: Energy Curable Inks - Germany
The project was approved by the European Union in 2011; work among the partners started in June, and the first plenary meeting was held at the UPM Augsburg Training Center in October 2011. Project results will be available in 2014.