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Navigating the Wide-Format Sea

(October 2009) posted on Wed Oct 28, 2009

Five industry experts scope out the year ahead.

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Florek: UV technology has been the hottest or fastest-growing wide-format ink technology for much of the first decade of the 21st century. I should point out, though, that like the rest of the wide-format market, shipments of UV-curable hardware, ink, and media will plunge in 2009. Still, compared to the rest of the wide-format market, the future of UV-curable technology is bright. One significant reason is it’s becoming less expensive to operate UV-curable devices. Another reason is the need for print providers to find new markets, and the versatility of UV-curable printers—which print on a wide range of substrates—enables shops to do just that.

Marx: UV is on the rise for a number of reasons. First, it’s the most environmentally preferable ink system that’s widely used in our industry today. Second, it’s the ink system that will adhere to the widest variety of substrates—now also including flexible surfaces—and provide a durable print. Third—and this is of paramount importance when we consider the future of our industry—UV offers instant cure, which means the print is dry—period. As high-production inkjet devices go faster and faster, there will be no time to allow for drying. Last, an instantly dry print can be sent immediately for finishing, which speeds the process and allows for even faster completion of the job. Solvent is fading because it’s not environmentally favorable, offers less substrate compatibility, and dries through evaporation, which slows the process.

Greene: Yes and yes. We see robust solvent in significant decline and UV-curable growing at more than 20 percent per year.