Got Ink? 5 Top Considerations for Managing UV Inks

UV-curable inks have revolutionized the printing industry with their durability, quick drying times, and environmental benefits. However, managing UV inks efficiently requires understanding their unique characteristics and handling requirements. Here are five top considerations for anyone looking to maximize their use of UV inks:
Proper Storage and Handling
UV inks should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent premature curing caused by exposure to UV light or excessive heat. Ensure the ink containers or bags are tightly sealed to avoid exposure to air, which can also initiate curing. Handling should be done with care to prevent skin contact and exposure to fumes, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Managing Expiry Dates
UV inks, like all printing inks, have a shelf life. LogoJET’s ink shelf life is up to 12 months.  Using expired ink can lead to poor print quality due to change in viscosity or consistency and may harm your equipment, particularly the print heads. Regularly check the expiry dates on your ink supplies and prioritize using inks that are closest to their expiration. Develop a system for rotating stock to ensure older inks are used first.

Curing Process Optimization
The quality of the final print is highly dependent on the curing process. Factors such as the intensity of the UV light, the speed of the curing unit, and the type of substrate being printed on can all affect the outcome. Proper calibration of the curing unit is essential to achieve the desired print quality and durability. Also cleaning the glass lens weekly on UV lamp will help cure inks consistently while printing.

Environmental and Health Considerations
While UV inks are lauded for being more environmentally friendly than solvent-based inks, due to their lack of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they still require responsible disposal practices. Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding the disposal of UV ink waste and containers to ensure compliance with environmental standards.

Health and Safety Precautions: Ensure the printing area is well-ventilated.  In some cases where you are in a small room or residential office, consider a fume extraction system to limit fumes.  Use protective gear to minimize health risks from UV ink exposure when refilling or performing maintenance. Adhere strictly to the ink manufacturer’s safety protocols.

Ink Agitation

UV inks, particularly those with high pigment content, can settle over time, leading to inconsistent color and print quality. Agitating the ink periodically helps maintain its uniformity. For inks stored in cartridges or bags, gentle shaking can be effective. For bulk systems, although some may include an automated agitation system, there are still some manual agitation to be performed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Agitation is especially important after prolonged periods of non-use to ensure the ink is well-mixed before printing.
By keeping these considerations in mind, you can effectively manage UV inks in your printing operations, ensuring high-quality prints, equipment longevity, and safety for both personnel and the environment.
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