July 26, 2018
Friesens has purchased a new Manroland 700 Evolution eight-colour perfecting press outfitted with LED printing technology. This press will be an addition to our existing fleet of presses, adding capacity and providing some unique benefits with the introduction of LED ink technology to our capabilities. The press is currently being installed, with anticipated completion at the end of June followed by factory training for the operators in July. This will be our first press equipped with LED capabilities.
What is LED ink?
Basically, it is a light-curable ink. LED ink is a form of UV ink that utilizes LED lamps on the press to trigger the photoinitiators that are added to the ink to cause the ink to dry immediately when exposed to a specific wavelength of light.
Challenges of Conventional Inks
We expect higher quality results on heavy coverage books. Using conventional inks can be challenging for many of the projects we print for several reasons:
- Heavy coverage on matte/silk stocks takes extra time to dry and is more susceptible to marking during the processes to complete the book.
- In order to help seal conventional ink and protect from marking, spot varnish is often applied. Applying the varnish helps reduce the chances of marking and introduces the risk of chemical ghosting as the gases from the ink release into the varnish that is applied on top of the images.
- Additional time and cost are incurred to allow for drying time and extra press runs with the application of varnish.
- With the risk of marking comes the risk of quality concerns, which increase the chances of having to reprint some or all of a project. This increases costs and delays projects from completion.
Benefits of new LED Press
- Zero wait time for the ink to dry results in the ability to turn jobs around quicker
- Improved technology brings superior impression quality
- Ability to run more unique papers means you have more creative freedom to choose papers that fit your project
- Ink that is instantly dry means the elimination of marking from the finishing process
- Eliminates the risk of chemical ghosting that can happen with traditional inks
Attaining improvements comes at a cost. Outfitting a press with LED technology can add $500,000 to the cost of a press. Then there is the continuing cost of LED specific consumables like rollers, blankets, press wash, etc., most of which come at a premium. LED ink is the greatest ongoing expense, which is currently as much as three times the cost of conventional inks. We hope to see the cost of ink come down as demand for it increases but it is hard to predict when or if those savings will be seen.
While LED ink has been around for quite a while, in the last few years the technology required to make it stable and production-ready has come a long way. Today most press manufacturers are selling presses equipped with the systems to use LED ink from the factory as opposed to needing to purchase a third-party system and have the press retrofitted to be able to cure the LED inks. This is making the benefits of LED ink much more accessible to the print industry. While still an expensive option, we believe the benefits will bring value to you in timely delivery and the quality of the finished books. In addition to the benefits of LED ink, this new press comes with several other advancements in technology which will enhance quality control and productivity.
- SPL (Simultaneous Plate Loading): The press will unload mounted plates and load the next set on all units at the same time while washing the blankets and cylinders, thus reducing make-ready time.
- Inline Colour Pilot: The press is equipped with a spectrophotometer that measures and adjusts colour live while running to reduce variation within the run.
- Inline Register: Registration is checked and will adjust automatically to keep the sheet in registration as it prints.
- Loto-Tec dampening rollers: These rollers reduce the time it takes to get to the density at the start of a print run and help keep ink stable during the run.
- Sixteen thousand sheets per hour maximum speed.
It is always exciting to see new equipment being installed, and this press is no exception. It is coming with all the newest technology to create the highest quality with the greatest efficiency in the books we produce for you.