The benefits of LED curing in label printing

Our technical team has been researching and trialling LED curing for some months; resulting in the installation of an LED unit on one of our key printing presses. It has been a significant investment for Piroto, but one we feel will reap benefits for our customers in years to come.

UV lamps have been used to ‘cure’ or speed up the drying process of printed inks for over 100 years. Whilst UV curing remains a widely used process for label printing companies, the advent of LED has a number of advantages; especially when it comes to protecting the environment.

Some of the benefits are:

Environmental benefits

UV curing units use mercury bulbs and emit toxic ozone gases. On the other hand LEDs create no such hazardous waste. They not only make for a better working environment, but help the planet too. Moreover LED bulbs can last some ten times longer than UV lamps meaning that there is far less waste generated.

As well as reduced physical waste, LEDs generate far less wasted energy during the label printing process too. UV lamps not only use more energy to run, but they create excess heat, which in turn needs more energy in the form of cooling units or fans.

Print quality and versatility

LED cured inks have proved to be more consistent, especially over longer label print runs. In addition the inks have lower migration rates, which is particularly important when printing food contact labels for our food manufacturing customers.

Since the UV curing process generates excess heat, this limits the number of label substrates it is suitable for. Some label materials are too delicate to reliably withstand the curing process. LED curing therefore offers greater versatility when it comes to choosing the right label substrate.

Cost and time savings

Although retrofitting LED units on-press needs a significant upfront cost, and the bulbs themselves are more expensive, we believe that long term cost savings, in terms of lower energy usage will pay off.

In addition the units, unlike UV, can be switched on and used instantaneously, thus reducing press set up time and improving the economics of label printing.

The Piroto quality team will continue to closely monitor the economics and performance of the LED curing system to ensure that it lives up to environmental and quality standards.

If you’d like to discuss what difference switching to LED curing could make to your labels and your green agenda, please get in touch.