INX Digital International Co. announced the global availability of its UV HeadCure prin head cleaning service. Employing a new, patent-pending technology, it has shown to provide 100 percent recovery of UV printheads with obstructed nozzles and restricted flow.
“This is a major advance in printhead cleaning that can pay huge dividends for digital print operations everywhere,” said Peter Padan, the INX Digital technical services supervisor who developed the new process and manages the program at Triangle. Mr. Padan said that solvent ink-related environmental issues along with the flexibility of UV and UV print quality have all contributed to a rapid increase in digital UV print applications.However, “the growing use of UV curable ink requires a new approach in print head maintenance,” he said.
Shops spend time and thousands of dollars on printhead maintenance. Yet, for various reasons, printhead nozzles and delivery passages become clogged with UV ink and current printhead cleaning and flushing options typically achieve 50 percent effectiveness, at best. Following traditional solvent-ink maintenance routines or using incompatible cleaners can make matters worse.
Mr. Padan recalled how recently in one shop, an incompatible cleaner was used and rendered all 16 printheads on its UV printer useless.“The price of just one printhead such as these can easily approach $5,000 to $7,000,” he said. “Multiply that by 16 and replacing those heads becomes very costly.Using our multi-stage cleaning process, we were able to fully recover all 16 heads. We did it for a tiny fraction of the new-head cost and with a very short turnaround time, too.”
Unlike solvent inks which have traditionally dominated the digital marketplace, UV inks cannot be dissolved once they have cured. “They are very chemically resistant,” Mr. Padan said. “This is a ‘plus’ on UV-printed media, but it’s a real problem when cured ink clogs printhead nozzles and passages.”
UV lamps used to instant-cure inks on media are one of a few items that can cause UV to destabilize and start to cure. Mixing it with incompatible fluids or with water can initiate the process, as will some traditional solvent-ink print shop methods such as capping or sealing the printhead.With solvent inks, this is good because it keeps residual ink moist, but UV ink starts to cure due to lack of oxygen.
As with Triangle inks themselves, new patent-pending UV HeadCure technology is designed to work with virtually any printhead type, said Mr. Padan.
Mr. Padan said the results for the new UV service speak for themselves.
“We can successfully recover many UV printheads that were otherwise considered useless,"he said. "What once was considered irreversible damage is no longer an issue in our head cleaning department.”