Commercial printer switches to LED drying
Printing firm Druckerei Hertle, based in Kirchheim unter Teck, Germany, has recently opted for LED technology and has now fitted its printing press with an IST METZ UV system.
The firm's customers mainly come from the Stuttgart metropolitan area. Approximately 25 employees work in two shifts on typical commercial print jobs such as greetings cards, flyers, brochures, catalogues etc. Recently, the company introduced personalised online portals on a Europe-wide basis, where customers can order and adapt recurring products. "We have evolved into a media service provider," said Managing Director Robert Hertle, describing the family business, which last year celebrated its 65th anniversary. The printing firm has an interesting specialisation: "We do everything that online printing services don't offer," he added. By this he meant special processing – for example with die cutting and hot foil embossing, digital personalisation, but also typesetting, layout, and pre-press as well as additional processing options.
Recently, Druckerei Hertle installed an LUV® 80 LED curing system from IST METZ. The motivation to invest in the system came from outside the firm: "Our delivery times were simply too long for our main customer, a greeting cards publisher," acknowledged Hertle. Three to five days needed to be scheduled for drying the cards. A significant amount of time and staff effort was also spent on sorting out waste. "We needed to become more efficient whilst also improving our print quality. For reasons of space, we decided to fit out our existing Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 74-5," explained Gerhard Sperl, Druckerei Hertle GmbH's works manager.
LED immediately came up as an option, as the instant curing of colours and coatings and the elimination of powder meant that sheets could be ready for further processing straight away – thus achieving the desired time savings. But quicker delivery times weren't the only motivation for switching to LED technology. "Previously, we'd mainly printed on paper. With our new LED drying system, we're hoping that we can expand our portfolio of substrates to include foils, for example," commented Sperl.
Many other considerations preceded the decision to opt for a specific UV system: Which technology should be chosen? What are the benefits of LED? How does the curing work? Who could supply LED inks? "It was obvious that someone would be able to supply us with a system, but we had to hammer out all the other issues first," explained Sperl. Both he and Managing Director Robert Hertle were convinced of the benefits of the drying technology when watching a printing demonstration. "We saw that it worked, and that the results were of a high quality," said Hertle, who belongs to the third generation of his family to run the business. A trip to IST METZ's UV DAYS in June of this year provided still more information on the inks available. "We were positively surprised to see five or six ink manufacturers there offering LED inks. Until then, we'd assumed we'd have to purchase them from abroad," remarked Sperl. Tests will now reveal how the respective inks and coatings are reacting and how suitable they are for their intended purposes.
In addition to the new inks, switching to LED drying has also meant the adoption of various new practices around the printing press: "Another sort of gloves, two different lockers for work and non-work clothes, LED lighting in the printing room – we've had to consider a lot of things and learn some lessons," said Sperl. However he appears optimistic that production will quickly be running smoothly again after a settling-in phase.