Fresh Focus – GEW

UV systems? GEW has a cure for it

GEW UV curing systems represent the future for packaging companies in a world where evolving innovative packaging is designed to protect, preserve, and dispense products. The same packaging must also make products easier to handle, transport, store, and use. In addition, integrated counterfeit protection devices are also able to ensure the authenticity of goods, and today’s built-in traceability, facilitates easier product recalls.

Currently, packaging converters and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies rely on a mix of UV printing and UV coating technologies, in order to deliver aesthetically pleasing designs. These can feature bold colours; tactile, haptic, and special effects; as well as glossy and matte varnishes that promote and protect the package’s internal contents. In addition, they may develop innovative functionality tailored to specific markets and preferred portion sizes, thus differentiating products, and facilitating improved sustainability. Examples of UV curable application technologies utilised by both rigid and flexible packaging converters include gravure, flexo, offset, digital inkjet and screen, all of which can be equipped with GEW’s mercury arc, UV LED, and hybrid lamp designs.

Hybrid Arc & UV LED curing systems offer package converters a wide variety of printing options

Mercury vapour UV curing technology has been established in various segments of the packaging industry for over half a century. By comparison, UV LED curing is a relatively new technology that is only used minimally in rigid and flexible packaging. For those new to LED and not fully convinced of the technology’s capabilities, Arc/LED hybrid solutions, which consist of a cassette style lamphead and universal power supply, allow printers and decorators to swap between LED and mercury cassettes quickly and easily. This means packaging converters can easily experiment on press by its qualifying processes, and transition to UV LED at a pace that suits their need and comfort.

GEW’s ArcLED concept employs this hybrid UV curing technology, thus allowing interchangeability between conventional UV arc or LED on the same print unit. This can simply be done by changing the cassette. Both arc and LED cassettes are compatible with GEW’s RHINO power supply unit (PSU) and fit in the same lamphead housing. The entire process is operator-controlled using an intuitive Human Machine Interface (HMI) touchscreen. The HMI operates up to 16 lamps simultaneously and is customised by GEW for each unique machine configuration.

All new GEW UV systems are powered with rectifying power supply units (PSUs) designed to provide mercury vapour lamps with AC power and LEDs with DC power. These are available in a range of sizes of up to 27kW.RHINO’s advanced, high-level specification and safe shutdown capability also protects the system from a long list of common electrical issues and is proven to run for many years in the harshest of environments. Intelligent power management, balances mains draw and minimises harmonic distortion, leading to reduced energy demand.

All internet connected RHINO-powered systems are regularly monitored by GEW service engineers. Remote Monitoring enables encrypted system performance data to be pushed to the cloud where it is accessed by GEW, ensuring the fastest and most precise service response available. A preventative maintenance program recommends software and hardware updates, and highlights and corrects out-of-tolerance parameters before any issues arise in production, often allowing GEW to fix problems without attending a production site. Importantly, this also keeps the carbon footprint low for package converters. Comprehensive monthly system performance reports are automatically generated and emailed to users, so press productivity can be monitored more closely than ever before.

UV LED systems taking centre stage

Industries that are leading the adoption of LED curing include those using UV digital inkjet and flexo technologies. With LED inks and coatings far more widely available and cost-effective today, the landscape is shifting more rapidly in this direction. Additionally, many formulators now supply dual cure chemistries that polymerise when exposed to either LED or mercury vapour. This encourages adoption as it reduces the number of SKUs that must be produced and carried in inventory.

The combined use of LED across digital inkjet, narrow-web, flexo, and commercial sheetfed offset now represents around 25% of GEW’s production, and this figure is steadily rising. Packaging manufacturers are following these early market leaders and are now considering LED technology for their own, more demanding processes. This is because the longer wavelength LEDs penetrate polymer films better than conventional UV, making LED the ‘go-to’ for cast and cure, and cold foil adhesives.

GEW’s latest water-cooled LED innovation, LeoLED, has had a significant impact on the packaging market since its launch in late 2019. LeoLED has been redesigned and refined for simplicity and offers excellent value, whilst at the same time delivering maximum power and dose of UV energy. The LeoLED cassette is fully compatible with GEW’s ArcLED hybrid system and brings UV LED within affordable reach for all package converters. Economies of scale are soon realised since the same core LeoLED technology is suitable for container decorators requiring one or more lamps as short as 15cm, through to wide-web applications requiring one or more lamps as long as 170cm.

For high-speed web and sheetfed offset applications within the packaging sector, the lower profile LeoLED Standard offers all the same benefits and specs as the LeoLED cassette. It is also easily configured in a Modular Lamp Array (MLA) that is a customisable arrangement of LED mounting positions integrated at the end of a printing press or coating line. Lamps can be freely moved between any position to change curing configuration and adapt to the job at hand, for highly demanding applications, multiple lamps are placed-in series.

To find out more about the products GEW provide for package converters, visit the dedicated web page here