BLOG TOPIC: Reflecting on over a decade of UV LED developments, and the brighter future through Dual Cure technology

As we consider the advancements in printing technology over the past decade, it's hard not to marvel at the remarkable progress made by UV LED (Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diode) curing.

Over the course of around ten years, UV LED technology has steadily transformed the curing process, matching high curing performance with reduced energy use in comparison to traditional UV curing.

Both Mercury lamps and LED lamps are used in curing systems for UV inks. However, they operate at different wavelengths. Mercury lamps produce UV light in a broad spectrum, while LED lamps emit UV light at specific wavelengths. This difference in wavelengths can affect the ink system's reactivity.*

As the market develops a stronger drive towards sustainability and circularity, it’s clear that the future of UV LED curing is bright and could light the way towards the future of high-speed, low-carbon printing supply chains.


Putting UV LED technology in the spotlight


Now becoming a much more common sight in press rooms, UV LED curing has expanded for a number of critical reasons. One of the more recent drivers for this shift has been the environmental concerns associated with UV technology, specifically with regards to its mercury content.

Mercury is known for its highly toxic and extremely hazardous affects on the human body. Consequently, this poses a handling risk for operators and presents challenges when it comes to the safe disposal of mercury-based UV lamps after use. As a result, printers are gradually phasing out the use of UV lamps. This not only helps printers future-proof their operations but also ensures compliance with regulatory measures such as the Minamata Convention treaty and various waste disposal regulations.

So began the rise of UV LED curing technology - as awareness regarding the environmental impact of mercury grew, the industry sought alternative solutions that could deliver the same high-quality results while reducing the ecological risks.

With dramatically reduced energy demands and eliminating the risks of mercury, UV LED curing technology not only answered the call for a more sustainable future in printing and packaging, but also brought several operational benefits to the table.

UV LED curing is impressively responsive, offering improved process control and as a result, enhanced productivity. Notably, LED lamps generate less heat, which both unlocks faster curing times and minimises the risk of heat-related damage to more delicate or sensitive substrates.

Additionally, LED lamps do not produce ozone-depleting emissions like mercury lamps. This not only contributes to a cleaner environment but also brings added advantages within the press room. Unlike mercury lamps, LED lamps generate significantly less noise during operation, creating a quieter and more pleasant work environment. Additionally, their ozone-free nature eliminates the need for press exhaust or ventilation systems, streamlining installation and reducing overall operational costs. Embracing LED technology not only enhances sustainability efforts but also improves the overall printing experience for a more efficient and eco-conscious workflow.

Overall, UV LED is a significant driver enabling businesses to meet ever-tighter deadlines and increase overall operational efficiency.


Flint Group’s dual cure expertise


At Flint Group, we take great pride in being at the forefront of print evolution.  In the case of UV LED, Flint Group’s journey began in the technology’s early years.  A decade of focus in a given area tends to make one an expert – and so it is with Flint Group.

Our experience in crafting effective ink and coating products that perform under UV LED curing conditions has resulted in one of the most effective ranges for printers and converters who are making the switch from UV to UV LED curing.

EkoCure®, a high-performance range of inks and coatings was carefully crafted with dual cure technology. Designed for quality and versatility, the range cures well under both UV and UV LED curing conditions, making it an ideal ‘bridge’ between the traditional and the new.

A core benefit to the dual cure approach is that printers can minimise waste during the curing transition. Rather than discarding UV ink inventory that can’t be used with UV LED curing lamps, printers can gradually introduce dual cure inks into their workflows, unit by unit.

The EkoCure® range is ideally placed to help printers access one of the most central benefits of UV LED curing: energy efficiency. Diode lamps consume significantly less energy than their UV counterparts, leading to substantial cost savings that can grow substantially over time. 


A vision of the future


At Flint Group, we know that being a global market leader comes with responsibilities which includes recognising market and technology shifts before they happen. Recognising the potential of UV LED technology at an early stage has positioned us well for the future.

Aiming to play our part in making a low-carbon print industry more accessible, we have invested significant resources into research and development to deliver state-of-the-art inks and coatings that are compatible with both UV and UV LED curing methods.

Our commitment to innovation in all its forms has allowed us to offer our customers the flexibility to adapt to changing market demands. With more than a decade of experience under our belts, no-one knows dual cure inks like Flint Group.

Offering unparalleled performance and versatility, from vibrant colours to exceptional adhesion and durability, these inks and coatings are designed to exceed the expectations of even the most demanding printing applications.

For printers exploring the potential of UV LED curing, as well as those currently making the switch, we invite you to explore the EkoCure® range and experience the power of dual cure technology first-hand.

With Flint Group's unwavering dedication to innovation and a hard-earned reputation for quality, we are confident that our EkoCure® line will prove instrumental in helping printers of every size and discipline to reach new heights of success while championing environmental responsibility.

Over the preceding decade, the rise of UV LED curing technology has brought about significant transformations in the printing industry. As Flint Group reflects on a decade of perfecting dual cure solutions, we are proud to have played a pivotal role in this journey.

With the introduction of our EkoCure® range, we continue to push the outer limits of printing technology, offering ink and coating solutions that empower businesses to thrive in an ever-evolving market.


* UV inks are formulated to cure when exposed to specific UV wavelengths. If your system uses both Mercury and LED lamps, it's essential to ensure that the ink is designed to react to the wavelengths emitted by both types of lamps.