UV LED vs. Conventional Sheet-Fed Inks

Industry Insights | February 14, 2023

An open bucket of blue offset ink for the printing press. Special UV ink for printing.

Sitting down with Brad Wenthe, Color Management Professional and Ink/Process Control Administrator


This is the first part in a series of posts dedicated to educating customers on the processes in the commercial and book printing industry. Today we’re focusing on sheet-fed inks and how their differences can add up to big advantages for your project or publication.

There are two different kinds of sheet-fed inks in use at Kingery’s two facilities: conventional sheet-fed ink and LED ink. Today, Kingery Printing’s largest sheet-fed and web equipment–the Heidelberg 40” 10-unit, the Koenig Bauer 40” 10-unit, and the 32-page Timson book press–all utilize LED-UV technology. Since UV LED ink is cured immediately, the ink dots comprising the image or text sit on top of the sheet. This does not allow the ink time to soak into the substrate and “grow” (an effect called dot-gain.) The dot remains crisp, allowing for higher-quality reproductions. LED-UV inks also provide a higher sheen on the final product. This more closely matches the ink sheen of a product produced from a web press. In contrast, conventional sheet-fed inks contain linseed oil and dry by oxidation and absorption, requiring about 24 hours before it can be handled or finished. As time marches on conventional oil-based inks will be replaced by LED-UV inks.

It’s important to point out the difference, too, between UV LED and other UV inks. UV inks require a mercury bulb to cure. The finished product is the same, but there are really significant energy savings with the LED inks. LED bulbs contain no mercury, harmful gases, or toxins. LED bulbs can save between 75- and 90% of the energy as compared to a mercury bulb.

The technological advancement of inks over the last several years have completely changed the industry. LED inks have reduced turnaround times, reduced make-ready waste, lessened environmental impact, and increased energy savings.

Want to know more about Kingery’s services? Check out our Capabilities page to see what Kingery can offer, or drop us an email with specific questions.


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