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FEBRUARY 2013



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UV Coating and Laminating Opportunities for Dealers

Over the years press equipment especially offset and digital electrostatic printing processes have offered inline coating towers to enhance the permanence and brilliance of the printed sheet. Many printed products like packaging, publication covers, direct mail pieces (on coated papers) and related items cannot withstand the scrapping, rubbing and general surface abuse caused by people, machines and the general handling abuses that occur between the finishing of the pieces and its way to the consumer.

Today, coating printed pieces in- or offline is something your printer customers require. This is especially true of many of the digital imaging processes where coating is used to enhance colors and keep the pages from destruction. In the digital world where there are inline coaters many users still lean towards offline coating equipment since the inline methods usually slow down the speeds of the digital press where offline coating machines are more cost effective and improve the production flow.

Particularly in the offset printing world water based aqueous coatings were primarily used and still are. The drying occurs as the printed sheets pass over heaters at the end of the presses. But over time especially in the packaging business better coatings evolved using ultra violet light (UV) to cure the coating for fast drying without the need to add long extensions to the presses. The use of UV technologies for coatings and even inks is a direction coating developments have taken.

There are many ways to apply coatings and many kinds of coating materials. A role of the graphic arts dealer is educating their customer on the best, most cost effective coating method they can use. The technology in the coating world continues to evolve. Where once only varnishes, applied like an ink could be used for spot effects, today spot coating is feasible both in a tower and on a printing unit. The printers need their dealers to keep them informed on the latest and greatest for coating especially as the printing industry is morphing into hybrid imaging combining traditional printing with digital leading to digital as a predominate printing method. That is if you believe all the hype on high volume digital ink jet printing - it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

However, Dealer Communicator (DC) sees more dealers getting interested in providing coating equipment and supplies in concert with the dynamic growth of digital and hybrid printing. One area of interest is UV coating.

Located in Chino, California, Al's Co. UV (www.alscouv.com) was formed in 2000 by Albert J. Nuño. He initially used his Electrical/Mechanical Engineer background to assist with the introduction of lighting and related equipment for the Converting Industry. These products were used to Cure Inks, Coatings and Adhesives in many different market places.

The primary focus has and continues to be the Narrow Web, Wide Web, Sheet fed Offset and Digital Sheet fed industries. While initially focusing on UV curing equipment, in 2009 Nuño joined forces with Curtis Ainsworth, who has 25 years of experience in the UV curing industry especially in coatings when he worked for Sun Chemical and Apollo Coatings, the largest seller of UV coatings on the west coast. This marriage expanded Al's UV CO into selling a complete line of UV products from coaters to dryers to delivery systems and now coatings. One of the new markets Al's is getting involved in is flexible packaging. They recently installed their COOL UV Package on a Mark Andy 5 flexo press.

Another DC advertiser and on top of the world of coating is David Aynessazian of Kustom Group, (www.kustomgroup.com). This company is a provider of a family of coating products typically sold through dealers that are used on traditional printing presses (offset, flexo and screen). In a previous interview Aynessazian commented that the use of coating with digital printing is growing. At Kustom they have come up with a series of aqueous, varnish based and UV coatings that are applied to digital printing through a litho press. This method is an inexpensive way for printers to add spot or full coatings to digitally printed products.

Another trend that Aynessazian observed is a growing interest in more textured coatings that can be spot applied or to give a different overall finish to a printed page. The textured coatings are showing up in a variety of digital presses or coating devices. At Kustom they offer the ability to put down two types of (gloss and textured) coating down in one pass on an offset press. These developments along with other application ideas are provided in technical bulletins and a newsletter. It is worth a trip to the Kustom website. Not only do you get a glimpse of their products but they also offer the industry links and support information of use to dealers, printers and even end users. For example there is the PIA trends reports showing shipments, trends and other related information; charts showing a list of offset and digital press information; and other information related directly to inks and coatings.

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Laminating Technology
As litho presses either become a companion/integrated with digital printer or replaced by high speed digital presses the need for gloss or textual enhancements will continue. Having a line of coating products in their product kit is a must for many graphic arts dealers. But, while coatings are a relatively low cost means of enhancing and protecting printed images one should not overlook using laminating as an alternate technology.

Where coatings and varnishes are applied wet, laminates come in two types: film and liquid, and can have a gloss or matte finish. As a liquid the material is applied like a coating and dries like its counter parts.

In film form a clear plastic sheet is laid down over the paper and through pressure sealed to the covered substrate. Laminates protect the sheet from water (including perspiration from the hands) and are therefore good for items like menus and book covers. To reduce curl a porous, lay-flat material can be used (the interior of which is covered with numerous "V"-shaped cuts in the plastic that minimize the "curl" one often sees on paperback book covers due to moisture seeping into the uncoated side and causing it to expand). While laminates are slower to apply and cost more they provide a strong, washable surface. Actually "slow" is a relative term since many wide format printers or sign shops find using a wide format sheet laminator quicker and probably less expensive in small quantities.

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One advertiser in DC offering smaller tabletop laminating equipment is Akiles (Luis Hsu www.akiles.com). Known for a line of table top binding equipment including a booklet maker designed for offices, in-plants and quick printers, Akiles now offers a line of smaller format laminators and material (pouches and laminating sheets). Designed for the photo and ink-jet or other smaller format printing, these products can provide clear, bubble free laminated results cost effectively.

As you can see, the coating and laminating business is on a growth path. One great thing about the coating and lamination business is that both are a combination of equipment sales and recurring sales of the materials and supplies. While the volumes are not the same, it is sort of like the good days where dealers sold cameras and platemakers to get the film and plate business. Through products from advertisers like Kustom Group and Al's UV CO, there is no distinction between serving a specific type of printer. Their technologies work with both traditional and digital printing methods. Laminators from Akiles have an additional benefit of opening doors to a wider range of customers since its products fit the needs of non-printers as well as print for profit users.

The future of graphic arts dealers lies in having a range of products that are technology-proof along with providing entree into new markets and customers. At Dealer Communicator we keep preaching at you to look for and invest in products that can be sold to businesses in and outside of the traditional printing business. Maybe coating and laminating are product lines that can move your cheese. DC

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Fichera Publications · 1919 N. State Rd. 7, Suite 202· Margate, FL 33063 · 800-327-8999· 954-971-4360· Fax: 954-971-4362 · email us


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