The BGDP, Germany’s industrial safety council for the printing and paper processing industry, provided a comprehensive review of the safety issues relating to print chemistry and technology, Fogra discussed process standardisation in UV offset while KBA, Heidelberg and MAN Roland focused on the potential for optimisation, process stability and standardisation in UV offset
The second part of the event examined application-specific productivity gains with optimised UV radiation technology (IST Metz), inline finishing trends in sheetfed offset (KBA), new opportunities afforded by waterless UV offset (Druck und Beratung Braun/EWPA), and waterless UV offset in the B3 format (Herrmann Druck+Media, Sonnenbühl).
Profit and stability
The forum was chaired by the BGDP’s consumables expert, Dr Bernhard Küter, who started by reviewing the parameters required for UV technology, the environmental and safety issues involved, and process stability.
The UV study group, which was set up by the BGDP and has 49 member companies drawn from the printing and supplies industry, research institutes, teaching professions and trade associations, has published a UV protocol for all current printing processes. The protocol is available in English or German.
Speaking on behalf of the BGDP, which provides accident insurance for the German printing and finishing sectors, Dr Küter stated unequivocally that, "UV printing is not a health and safety hazard." He added that the safety council, whose norms have become global standards, will continue to keep a weather eye on UV technology and take action whenever justified for health, safety and – more important than ever – environmental reasons.
Advances towards standardising UV offset
Dr Wolfgang Rauh, head of chemistry and the environment at Fogra, gave a run-down on production conditions at UV offset printing plants. The object is to maximise printing speed, minimise control and regulating tasks at the press, detect and remedy the causes of corrosion, and to address customer demands for certified offset standards accreditation similar to that for conventional inking systems.
But before UV offset can be standardised it must be optimised – firstly to define the impact of consumables on press components and secondly to assess the technical properties of these consumables. In this respect, a stable printing process at high press speeds can deliver genuine cost savings.
Test specs for washes, fount solution and inks are already available, compatibility tests for rubber blankets are currently being drawn up, and plate tests will follow. Washes and fount solutions that have passed these tests will be accredited and listed on Fogra’s website.
KBA and Heidelberg have collaborated on tests and threshold values for the compatibility of inks with various press components. Ink manufacturers whose inks come up to scratch receive a seal of approval and are included among those recommended by Fogra and press manufacturers.
A Fogra study on corrosion in UV presses is nearing completion, while others on the odours emitted by UV prints and the sensitivity of UV inks are still being conducted
Optimisation potential and process stability in UV offset
KBA’s sheetfed marketing manager, Jürgen Veil, pinpointed the aspects of UV offset where there is still considerable potential for improvement.
He noted that there are still no specified parameters for proofing forms during press acceptance, proofs with or without interdeck UV dryers, the number of lamps, the definition of substrates, and proofing speed. Nor are there standardised specifications for hybrid and UV offset inks with regard to colour and transparency (ISO 2846-1), norm compliance, tolerance thresholds for full-solid primary colours red (M+Y), green (C+Y) and blue (C+M): only reference values in a CIELAB colour gamut are available.
According to Veil, all variables impacting on process stability need to be examined. These include fount solution tolerances; dampening additives, their interaction and their reaction with washes; a definition of materials compatibility; and blanket swelling, changes in volume and suitability for mixed production.
KBA has been awarded BGDP 'Emission tested' certificates for all its small-, medium- and large-format Rapidas from the 74 to the 162a. The most recent test completed was on compliance with the basic regulations for optimised handling in UV print production in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Standard OHSAS 18001.
The certificate, for KBA’s demo centre, training centre and experimental press room in Radebeul, was presented by Dr Küter to Jürgen Veil at the print forum. KBA is the first press manufacturer to achieve OHSAS 18001 accreditation.
A high point of the evening was the signing of a joint declaration by KBA, Heidelberg and MAN Roland to draw up, define and introduce universal standards in accordance with mandatory test specifications for the accreditation of UV and hybrid inks, proofing forms and proofing norms for UV and hybrid inks, and press-compliant auxiliaries and aids, along with standards for enhancing press reliability and user benefits through the use of press-compliant auxiliaries and aids (protection through precise definition).
Manufacturers of consumables and aids are voluntarily bearing the cost of accreditation.