As the entire supply chain seeks to answer the call for sustainability, energy can often be an overlooked part of the problem. Converters need to quickly meet lofty sustainability targets that they’ve promised, and reducing their energy expenditures by converting to UV LED is one such way to accomplish that goal.
This Video Bite delves into this topic as GEW Inc’s Vice President for Sales, Amir Dekel, joins Label & Narrow Web Editor, Greg Hrinya, to discuss the benefits of converting to UV LED technology. The Video Bite covers the following topics:
- What are some of the biggest challenges facing converters?
- Why has LED seen a marked growth in popularity, and how can label printers benefit from this technology?
- What are the newest products from GEW to help accomplish this?
- From an energy standpoint, what do you expect in the future, and how will GEW continue to play a pivotal role in answering market demand?
What are some of the biggest challenges facing converters?
While conventional UV printing technology has been established for decades, and today’s converters have broad access to UV curable inks, coatings, and adhesives, they are now confronting a new and growing challenge of how to mitigate rising energy costs and decrease a plant’s overall energy usage. Both have a direct impact on a converter’s cost of operations and sustainability goals.
In this regard, there are 4 components of industrial electricity supply to consider:
- Installed power, which is how much electricity the electric company has apportioned to the converter’s building via the transformer that connects the plant to the grid.
- Peak demand – an electricity billing charge driven by the 15 minutes each month of highest electricity demand within a plant. While specific billing practices vary by electricity supplier and contract, peak demand charges are generally applied to all electricity consumption within the plant.
- Operational power consumption, which is the metered ongoing power consumption of the plant that occurs whenever equipment is running and pulling electricity from the grid.
- Carbon footprint, which is the total amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane generated by plant activities. Carbon footprint is increasingly a factor when brand owners select print vendors. A converter will score higher with a brand owner and thus will get more business if its carbon footprint is low.
Why has LED seen a marked growth in popularity, and how can label printers benefit from this technology?
UV LED curing technology is proving to be superior to all other curing and drying technologies. For the purposes of this conversation, converters who install UV LED curing equipment are able to lower installed power, reduce peak demand, and decrease electricity consumption during operation – all of which improves their plant’s overall carbon footprint.
Looking at them one by one gives an indication about how label printers can benefit from converting to UV LED. In terms of installed power, LED technology consumes up to 65% less power than conventional UV. As such, LED reduces the required power that must be supplied to the plant by the distribution lines. In fact, converting two 8-station, 17-inch flexo presses from arc to LED, will free enough plant power to add a complete new 8-station, 17-inch LED press with negligible increase in electricity demand. Generating the same print production with less power or generating more print production with the same power reduces electricity costs and lowers the carbon footprint per unit of production.
The second aspect is peak demand. This is an important parameter because the electric company must be able to supply your peak demand power 24/7, as they do not know when you will need it. LED reduces a plant’s peak demand by the same percentages as quiescent power and, as such, a lot less standby power at the generating station is needed to satisfy a plant’s peak loads. This reduces a converter’s electricity bill as peak demand rates are applied to all energy consumption. In fact, peak demand can be responsible for up to 40 to 60% of a manufacturer’s electricity bill, so using equipment that lowers peak demand always saves converters money.
For operational power, consumption is billed in £/$ per kWh. LED-based UV curing systems draw a lot less power when operating compared to conventional peers. This directly affects the electrical meter and reduces both consumption and billing charges immensely. The reduction is dramatic and can be up to 65%.
In terms of carbon footprint, the less power the system consumes, the less carbon emissions are generated. If a printer is required to be NetZero, it is a lot easier to achieve when starting at a much lower power need.
Ultimately, converters are being evaluated by their carbon footprint and will gain more business as they inch toward NetZero.
If you have any general questions about UV LED, visit our UV LED frequently asked questions page.
What are the newest products from GEW to help accomplish this?
GEW has a range of LED-based UV curing systems to address different segments of the market as well as different applications within these segments. In general, LED products are categorised by the cooling methodology which utilises either forced air or circulated water. The choice of cooling drives how much UV power can be emitted per device. For narrow web label printers that run flexo presses, an air-cooled LED system is an ideal fit. Wider webs, specialty applications, and faster web speeds generally require higher UV output and thus water-cooled systems are needed.
GEW’s air-cooled product is AeroLED. Comparatively, its water-cooled product is LeoLED. In terms of output power, AeroLED can produce 185mJ/cm2 at 100m/min, whereas the LeoLED system can produce 270mJ/cm2 at 100m/min. The question that the converter must answer is “what is needed for my ink, adhesive, or coating application to cure properly at the desired web speed?”. Addressing this question is not complex and is best answered by having a 3-way call between the converter, the formulator, and GEW. Normally one call determines the optimal solution and can help the converter decide between an air-cooled or water-cooled solution.
From an energy standpoint, what do you expect in the future, and how will GEW continue to play a pivotal role in answering market demand?
GEW has been leading the UV curing market for over three decades, serving printers’ needs and their ever-increasing desire for features and functionality. The main driver behind GEW’s development and future products is the power issue discussed in earlier questions. GEW is always working to increase device operating efficiency and reduce the overall power demand of its UV curing systems. In addition, GEW continues to expand its offerings for other print segments such as offset, inkjet, and screen as well as for specialty coating lines that cure UV hotmelt, silicone release, and other functional chemistry.
GEW is also looking into ways to reduce the need for the operator’s attention, and to increase automation. One of the main advantages of GEW’s UV curing systems is the capability to run either conventional UV arc or LED within a system, and even on the same print or coating station. This feature, called ArcLED, enables the operator to select which technology they want, and just flip the cassettes in that particular station – the power system remains the same. The process is quick and automatically adapts to the right technology. In addition, GEW is increasing production capacity by building a new production centre adjacent to its current UK headquarters, to serve customers more efficiently and to meet future demand.
The content above is a summary of the video content.
This Video Bite was created alongside Label & Narrow Web. It can be found on the Label & Narrow Web website at – https://www.labelandnarrowweb.com/contents/view_videos/2023-05-15/gew-details-benefits-of-led/70771