Label Products of Burnsville, Minnesota, in August purchased two LED systems from AMS Spectral UV. One was installed on an existing 10 colour, seven inch Mark Andy 2200 flexographic press; the second was integrated into a new, custom designed Delta Mod Tech converting machine, equipped with both a flexo printhead and a digital printhead for variable data printing.
‘The UV system on our seven inch Mark Andy press needed to be replaced. It was several years old caused unnecessary downtime due to maintenance,’ said Mek Paneinh, Label Products’ production manager. ‘We considered replacing it with another UV system, but when we explored the benefits, we quickly realized that LED was the only way to go.’
Mek added, ‘The benefits of LED included faster press speeds; eliminating costly UV bulbs that burn out and need to be replaced; and no moving mechanical parts (shutters) that can cause considerable press downtime.’
Other contributing factors to the decision were the facts that LED requires up to 65% less energy than standard UV; it doesn’t generate any heat to the substrate, so less expensive substrates can occasionally be used; and the fact that there is no warm up or cool down time required because LED is instant ‘on’ and instant ‘off’.
‘Because LED doesn’t require exhaust fans, our pressroom became considerably quieter. We no longer have to yell at each other when standing next to the press while it is operating,’ Mek pointed out.
Steve Metcalf, AMS Spectral UV’s president, added: ‘LEDs can last for more than 20,000 print hours of consistent and predictable cure quality year after year, which is especially important as the label and flexible packaging industry shifts to low migration ink formulas. Plus, with LED, the hassle associated with on-going operational maintenance and unplanned downtime of a standard UV system is eliminated – freeing up the team to focus on getting quality products out the door much faster.’
Label Products sees the investment of LED as a competitive advantage. Not only does it enable the company to produce labels at an overall lower cost than a standard UV printer, but it also believes that it opens the door to new market opportunities with brand owners who are seeking out eco friendly technologies. LED does not contain mercury or other hazardous materials – which has significantly reduced Label Products’ total energy consumption and carbon footprint.
‘AMS was great to work with,’ said Stu Knilans, Label Products’ quality manager. ‘We had a tricky installation that required some creative engineering. The Mark Andy press was equipped with IR heat dryers, and we didn’t want to lose them in case we had a specific job that required water based inks. AMS’s engineering design team was able to figure out an LED solution that didn’t require us to sacrifice the IR heat boxes. In the end, the AMS LED system breathed new quality and life into our press.’
Mek summed up: ‘Regardless of all the benefits that LED offers, my press operators have the assurance that when the blue lights are on, the labels are going to come off the press dry – every time – at even higher press speeds. Now that we have seen just what LED can do, we are considering adding it to the rest of our presses.’