In my journeys at drupa 2008 in May, a few new technologies caught my eye. In particular, I was intrigued by the potential for LED-curable inks. There hadn’t been a lot of announcements on LED curing prior to drupa, but quite a few companies showcased this new technology; Sun Chemical, Triangle Digital INX and Hexion Specialty Chemicals offered LED-curable digital inks for wide format, while Toyo Ink and Ryobi partnered on the 525 GX LED-curable sheetfed press.
It will take a while for LED curing to make inroads into the market, but the advantages it offers – one station curing, much less heat, 75 percent less energy than UV, among others – ensures that it will indeed be a successful niche in the coming years.
LED curing is just one reason why energy curing continues to enjoy growth in spite of the current state of the printing and ink industries. In my report on energy curing beginning on page 14, printing ink industry leaders noted that they posted growth in the past year, as new presses with energy curing capabilities go on line and new markets emerge.
Notably, energy-curable inks and coatings are making further inroads throughout the printing industry. For example, UV has made gains in flexible packaging and folding cartons, and the recent U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration ruling stating that UV is an FDA-compliant technology is opening new doors to food packaging. UV usage is also growing on plastic cards, and UV inkjet is an excellent market. All in all, sales of energy-curable inks and coatings should continue to grow in the coming years.
If we have overlooked any companies, I certainly welcome an e-mail, and as always, it is our pleasure to offer this directory to our readers.