Start Here November '21

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46 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 LED but only lasted about 800 hours. LED lasts 10,000 to 15,000 hours, "so the cost really becomes irrelevant," he continues. "They are smaller, use less heat and energy, so really every manufacturer has almost completely migrated to LED light sources." Another development that helped fuel the rise of the UV-LED market was the shift to "more industrial components like heavy- duty motors, belts and chassis, things designed to take some abuse in production environments," says Riley. The same things apply to a lot of other technology. "We are seeing major advances in head technologies, thin film technologies coming out from major players; more granular control, longevity, and better throughput, leading to faster print speed," he adds. Costs also have started to come down, making more industrial offerings available even to smaller print shops and graphic artists. COVID's Impact on the Market The retail market, which is one of the printing industry's biggest users of large-format printers, has seen the whole industry turned upside down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Retail as we know it changed drastically. There is a lot less brick-and-mortar activity and a lot more online shopping," Maxwell points out. But, even with the pandemic and limits on how many people can be in a retail location at a time, big box stores and grocery stores are still demanding floor and wall graphics, particularly graphics that tell people where to stand or that they should be social distancing, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer. "The big challenge is everyone wants something tomorrow. UV gives us the ability to deliver," Maxwell states. The flatbed market saw a huge influx of business in 2020 because retailers changed the graphics they were ordering from double-sided signs that hang from the ceiling to more floor and wall graphics. "People are more focused on looking down, staying six feet apart," Maxwell adds. As current events and advances in technology continue to change, UV-LED will continue to play a role in the graphics industry. Image courtesy LogoJET Image courtesy Roland DGA Image courtesy LogoJET Image courtesy Mimaki

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