By Cassandra Balentine
Digitally printed applications benefit from coatings for aesthetic and practical purposes. In addition to electrophotographic (EP)-based pages, new challenges emerge with the increased adoption of high-speed inkjet solutions.
Today, print providers seek flood and spot coating capabilities, and the market is set on providing options for every digital need. “Coating companies are developing fluids that work well over digital prints and manufacturing companies are developing machinery to fulfill printers’ needs,” says Joshua Bingham, international marketing manager, Harris & Bruno.
Dean Askin, regional manager, EMT International, Inc., says the continued growth in the inkjet printing market has created a need for coatings that protect prints, while also allowing finished products to stand out. These options are a critical aspect to keeping print purchasers’ satisfied.
In addition to a general demand, trends in style evolve. “Our clients are moving away from the prominent gloss coating to a softer look,” says Si Nguyen, VP of sales, Duplo USA Corp. “We’re seeing more requests for a new type of coating called Soft Touch, which is a mix between satin and matte. This combination transforms a dull, graphic printed product into a beautiful piece,” he suggests.
Nguyen also points to a trend towards spot UV and textured coating combined. “If we add another dimension to the art or communication piece to include touch and feel, we expand the imagination of the marketing message to the end client,” he continues. “Imagine if you’re looking at a picture of an alligator while scanning through a National Geographic publication? Wouldn’t it be nice to run your finger on the picture of the alligator to feel its imitated skin texture at the same time? This is the trend that’s coming in the next two to five years.”
On the Market
To create the look and feel print buyers are after, a variety of manufacturers offer coating equipment for digital output.
To meet the demands of on demand print service providers, Al’s Co offers UV and aqueous coating solutions. The company’s machines are manufactured in the U.S. and are available in many sizes and packages.
Count Machinery Company offers the UV CountCoat. It is designed for shops conducting a multitude of jobs that require an affordable solution and small footprint. The hand-fed machine is 15 inches wide.
Duplo offers flood UV coating solutions including the Ultra 300Ai, Ultra 200A, and Ultra 100A UV Coaters. Differentiating factors include a safety element that is engineered into the machines. Nguyen notes that the 300Ai and the 200A models are the only UL-certified UV coaters in the U.S. “The Ultra UV coaters have a fire-prevention feature that ensures documents do not catch on fire in case of a paper jam,” he explains.
Duplo’s Ultra UV Coaters also feature a patented function called the Auto Gap, which helps the bottom of the document remain streak-free from the flow of UV oil that adheres to the bottom roller. The devices also have a five minute auto clean-up feature to flush the entire system after use or to change to another UV oil type.
EMT International provides UV- and aqueous-based coaters that run inline with an inkjet press or as a near-line application. Chameleon Coaters are suited for web widths of 20, 30, and 42 inches with a standard speed of 500 and an option to go to 800 feet per minute. The Chameleon Coater is designed with integrated drying technology and has the capability of running a broad range of substrates in either a matte or gloss finish. The company offers multiple, optional integrated delivery systems from the Chameleon Coater such as the EMT chip-out cutter, folder, rewinder, or mail and bindery processes.
EMT’s Askin adds that flood coating can be expensive and wasteful and to address this, the Chameleon Coater utilizes an anilox roll configuration to allow for the capability of laying down a measured and defined thickness of coating on the printed web. It is a variable unit that is electronically controlled to match a digital press’ imaging flexibility with spot coating as an option and can be run on simplex or duplex mode.
Capitalizing on its offset coating expertise, Epic Products has developed versatile coaters for the digital printing market. These coaters are fully automated and consistently apply UV or aqueous coating. Epic coaters offer a unique anilox metering system, which applies precise and consistent lay down and supports single side—top or bottom—and duplex coating of the web.
Among its offerings, the Epic WebCoat 200, 350, and 400 provide inline UV or aqueous coating for all of Hewlett-Packard’s high-speed color inkjet web presses.
GMP Co. Ltd. offers desktop and automatic UV coating solutions for print on demand. The EUROCOATER Series features a three-roll bi-directional rotation coating system, precision coating metering adjustment, an air stripper installed for preventing paper jams, a Servo driver automatic stream feeder system, as well as a fire prevention system with optical sensor.
The EUROCOATER PLUS-5680SPOT is a spot varnishing and UV coating solution offers speeds of up to 50 meters per minute and up to 3,000 sheets per hour (sph).
Graphic Whizard provides a variety of digital coaters within its VividCoater line. The VividCoater XDC is offered in several models including manual and automatic feed options.
The company’s VividCoater XDC-530 Micro is a low maintenance, UV-cured coating system that produces a high-quality finish to the printed sheet. It offers small footprint and variable speed of up to 2,700 sph. Additional features include easy set handles, standard IR and wiper blade, and vacuum hold down.
The VividCoater DLG Spot and Flood Coater is a UV coating system that comes standard with touchscreen controls for easier use. It features three rollers with reverse and variable roller and speed ration control.
Harris & Bruno International provides the ExcelCoat series of offline/inline coating systems. Automated and semi-automated models are available, along with a high-pile feeder and stacker. The line stands out from the competition because of its optional chamber/anilox metering system, which is capable of applying UV matte, aqueous Soft Touch coatings with particulars, as well as water-based coating.
Standards on the automated ExcelCoat ZR include an intuitive user-control interface, automated nip adjustments, and 50 memory set points. The ExcelCoat ZRB is a base level machine with manual roll adjustment. The ExcelCoat line is built from high-quality parts made for years of dependable performance.
Bingham points out that the ExcelCoat Demonstration Center helps differentiate the company’s products from competition. “We regularly coat printers’ samples or host ExcelCoat demonstrations in the CA facility. We also utilize our experience and partnerships with coating suppliers to help printers learn the perfect ExcelCoat settings for applying specialty coatings over various digital prints.”
Kompac Technologies provides coating and curing systems. The EZ Koat product line offers UV and aqueous coating in a small footprint as well as the ability to change from inline to offline coating in under five minutes.
The Kwik Finish line provides a quick and easy way to apply UV, sapphire, aqueous, and specialty coatings to a variety of substrates.
MGI provides the JETvarnish 3D for digital spot UV coating. It features increased throughput for flat spot UV jobs and 3D raised effects. Ideal for operations with offset and/or digital presses up to 52×105-centimeter format, the JETvarnish 3D is well suited for 3D or traditional flat spot UV coating on runs from one to thousands.
Morgana offers its DigiCoater 13 and DigiCoater 20 products for UV coating. The DigiCoater 13 is the company’s entry-level UV coater, which is ideal for printers working with litho presses and digital print engines whose maximum width is 12.9 inches. The DigiCoater 13 comes with three tanks and one coating roller and can be used for UV coating or priming, but not for doing both simultaneously.
The DigiCoater 20 caters to printers requiring a larger sheet width of up to 19.6 inches. It is available in two versions. The first option is available with four tanks and two coating rollers and is ideal for customers looking to only coat. The second version is available with six tanks and three coating rollers and is ideal for customers who want the flexibility to have coating and priming available from one machine.
TEC Lighting offers several digital coating solutions. Among them, the TruCoat UV Coater offers a sophisticated design. Features include an easy to use touchscreen, variable intensity IR lamps, and quick-change rollers.
Additionally, the DualCoat Duplex is a double-sided UV coater. It is designed to reduce wasted materials, minimize labor costs, and increase production throughput. Since it coats both sides at once the savings can amount to up to 50 percent. The DualCoat’s groundbreaking design is the first UV coater to apply UV coating to both sides of a sheet of paper in the same amount of time and effort as coating a single side. It also offers on-the-fly shifting between single-sided and double-sided coating for even greater production flexibility.
Another option is the XtraCoat MINI, which is designed with the short-run printer in mind. It offers a quality finish and small footprint. Despite its size, the MINI incorporates all the features of larger units including a peristaltic fluid pump, IR lamps for flow-out and adhesion, and a stainless steel doctor blade to ensure the ability to run double-sided work.
A Final Touch
Coating is an important element for many applications. Whether it is utilized to withstand the mailstream or to add texture to a marketing piece, this step adds value to a printed piece. Equipment and coatings advance to keep up with the latest demands and add a new element to current trends.
In addition to solutions for EP/toner-based output, new products designed to keep pace with the latest high-speed, production inkjet presses are enabling printers to offer value-added print. dps
May2014, DPS Magazine