Sign & Digital Graphics

February '19

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WRAPS DIGITAL GRAPHICS 58 • February 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Latex Inks Latex inks (also known as aqueous- resin inks) and the printers that deliver them, are relatively new on the market when compared to solvent and eco/light solvent inks—newer even than digital UV-curable inks. HP was the first to develop this latex printing technology and has made steady inroads into the wraps market ever since. Steady printer improvements, and step-change formu- lation advancements in the inks have helped Latex printing systems to become the growth leader for printer sales among commercial PSPs. The inks themselves do not have typi- cal VOCs, do not require venting, and are dry right off the printer. The printer does, however, require a heating platen on the printer to drive the water out of the ink formula after printing. Beside being a "greener" solution for commercial printing, latex printing allows fresh prints to be laminated within minutes of printing, which allows for a quicker turnaround of customer requests. Presently, there are relatively few latex printer/ink manufacturers in this technology space. The market leader, HP, has a firm position in the technology, and continues to improve performance, processing, and speeds with new gen- erations of inks and printers. However, competition looks to increase in this technology space, providing additional viable alternatives for PSPs to consider. UVgel New on the scene are UV-cured gel inks. The system is very fast, high qual- ity, and an interesting technology that In recent years, manufacturers of printers, UV-cure units and inks have changed over to low-heat LED-based UV cure-lamps (and new LED-sensitive ink sets) in order to reduce temperatures, increase image quality, and have greater elongation (stretchability) of the inks. All these factors have helped UV-cure printers and inks make inroads into the commercial wraps markets. New LED UV-cure units, and ink developments, make compound curves, and the diffi- culties encountered in wraps no longer the impediment they used to be for UV printed media. The Canon Océ Colorado 1640 printer employs today's new- est ink technology— UVgel inks. (Image courtesy of Canon USA) EFI's VUTEk LX3 Pro is a UV-curing hybrid that can print onto rigid and rolled sub- strates. The unit employs LED- based UV-curing lamps and a corresponding ink set. (Image courtesy of EFI)

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