LED UV Print – how clean hands means better brands


Working in a marketing department, a lot of print has passed through my hands without me knowing (or really caring) about the printing processes behind the “purty pictures”; I just wanted crisp, vivid, stunning images within time and budget.

However, a recent project afforded me a real insight into the behind-the-scenes fine tuning on the press that makes the difference between a perfectly fine and simply divine result.  The Printing House recently invested in an LED UV printing press, a next generation printing technology that brings many advantages over older, traditional print. An LED UV printer uses light to instantly dry the ink, ensuring it doesn’t have time to sink into the substrate. This is a known problem with traditional printing methods, especially on uncoated stock, where the wet ink soaks into the paper, “blooming out” like an ink spot on blotting paper and losing some of its definition, whereas the LED UV drying process instantly “freezes” the ink in situ, making your image crisper on any print surface.

We wanted to create a new brochure that showcased this difference to our customers by incorporating a “before and after” effect to compare the same image printed on uncoated stock using both traditional and LED UV print processes. I was able to personally follow my brochure through both printing presses and see the techniques in action. We ran the LED UV print first and our pages were pretty much good to go straight off the press. Next, we ran the traditional print where even a bit of light handling left me with inky fingers.

“A basic text on a white background job isn’t a problem,” explained Pete Harrison, the Press Whisperer, “but as soon as you start laying down a lot of colour, especially blues, you’ve got to leave it a good 48 hours to dry completely. I’ve often had to explain to customers that although their job was printed on a Friday it couldn’t be despatched until Monday when it would be dry enough to handle. If you’ve got a tight deadline to meet, LED-UV is a godsend.”

We compared the two prints and after just 20 minutes you could see a small but discernible loss in colour depth and fine detail on the traditional print as the ink slowly dried and leached out into the substrate. It wasn’t a bad print; it wasn’t a dramatic difference, but the difference was clearly there. In isolation I would probably never have questioned its appearance but compared to the LED UV print there was no competition. It probably wouldn’t even matter if you were using coated stock or printing something text heavy but if you’ve got a gorgeous design and you want your image to hit the page without compromise, you’ve got to print to your full potential and that means LED UV.

LED UV is the way to go when you want your images to delight your reader in detail, bathe them in colour and engage their senses with textured surfaces because that’s the sort of impression that gets your brand remembered. 

Lisa Robinson
Marketing Department