Keeping your UV Curing Effective

Benford manufactures UV curing systems for inks on a range of production lines including offset, metal, web and industrial applications for reputable printing brands. During my time at Benford, I have spoken to many people who manage and run printing presses most of which operate on machines that run for extended periods of time with some operating nearly 24 hours a day. With such time sensitive production lines, systems cannot afford to be offline or functioning at below 100% even for a couple of hours. Therefore every part of the press must be in good working order.

The UV technology employed in presses offers flexible, durable, and high quality print curing as an integral part of the print process, eliminating the need for spray powders and oxidisation to cure the print medium. If the print medium isn’t curing, you should check the UV lamp and cooling system as this is where most problems with curing originate. Here is where I would start:

Inspect cooling system fluid

An inspection of cooling system fluids can quickly determine whether the fuilds need to be changed. If you have not checked the system in a while this is a good place to start. Ensure that the water is clean and clear, using Benford Pond Clear will ensure that the cooling fluids stay functional for longer by adding a dose every 4 months.

Contamination on the UV lamp

The lamp body is where problems can arise easily. Whilst inspecting you are looking for any external contamination, such as spray powder, dust or fingerprints on the glass. Clean with a lint free cloth using either isopropanol alcohol or isopropanol wipes. Run the wipes across the length of the lamp making sure to remove all dirt and contamination, then buffing off the excess with a dry lint free cloth.

Inspect, clean, replace reflectors

Reflectors account for between 60 to 70% of the UV light that hits the substrate, meaning they are a crucial part of the curing process. Inspect the reflectors to see if they need to be cleaned or discarded. If your Reflectors have contamination on them it would be beneficial to clean them with metal polish or metal polish wipes, buffing off the excess polish with a lint free cloth. The circumstances may arise where you may need to replace a reflector entirely. A quick rule of thumb is that a reflector should be changed in accordance with a lamp change.

Keep track of the lamp run time

The lamp running time will be shown on the UV system monitor screen. It is important to keep track of how many hours a lamp has been running, as after 1,000 hours of use a lamp’s energy output may be lower than the original specifications, thus the lamp may not provide enough UV energy for curing. It is important to swap in a new lamp when it has been in use for over 1,000 hours.