Opal Print Invests in AMS LED UV

Keith Lunt (Opal Print MD) with Claus Nielsen (AMS UK).

Keith Lunt (Opal Print MD) with Claus Nielsen (AMS UK).

Bath, United Kingdom - Opal Print, the Bath, UK, based award-winning bespoke print specialist, is to enhance its offering with the addition of LED UV curing from global market-leader Air Motion Systems. The mercury-free UV system is to be retro-fitted to its 2002 Heidelberg CD74 5LX B2 Speedmaster press in mid-2016 in a move that Managing Director, Keith Lunt, considers a significant development for the family firm that celebrates its 30th anniversary next year:

Opal Print premises.

Opal Print premises.

“We had been weighing up our next major investment for more than a year, aware that the marketplace was moving on, and there are new options for substrates and finishes that we were keen to explore. Because our business model is based on low volumes, but high value, our press only has 80 million impressions on the clock and we have it working like a dream, so it didn’t make sense to replace it,” he explains. “By fitting AMS LED UV curing we are opening up new opportunities that are directly relevant to our specialist offering – the performance on uncoated papers and ability to print non-absorbent substrates… the quality of the colour reproduction and precision of the dot… the tactile nature of the finishes ¬– these were the primary drivers in our decision. Factors like the environmental credentials of LED, better energy economy and elimination of spray powder are all bonuses.”

In researching the new generation UV systems for litho presses, Opal looked at the stepping-stone ‘high reactive’ technologies before settling on the Nobel Prize-winning blue light LED solution, with AMS the clear favourite. AMS European Managing Director Carsten Barlebo says:

“Although this is still a relatively new technology as far as the market is concerned, AMS has been at the forefront of the development of LED UV diodes and their application in our sector for several years. Consequently there are crucial differences in our solution: AMS develops, specifies and manufactures its own diodes in the USA designed to hit the precise wavelength required to trigger the photo-initiators in LED-UV inks, while others tend to use mass-produced off-the-shelf diodes with a broader wavelength spectrum; this means that our diodes hit the sweet spot using less power and giving faster curing, which is why we can cure at full production speeds up to 20,000 sph.”

“Combine this with our patented PEAK Optics Dynamic Collimation design, which gives our lamps an effective curing range up to 150mm from the sheet, and there is much more latitude in placement options when retro-fitting.”

AMS diodes have a minimum life of 20,000 printing hours, which equates to more than eight years for a typical commercial printing house.

These performance advantages mean that Air Motion Systems is not just the preferred partner to more press manufacturers than any other, but is also first choice for retro-fits with more LED UV installations on sheetfed offset presses worldwide than any other manufacturer.

Opal Print has a turnover of £1 million and has gained a substantial reputation among design agencies and contemporary and photographic artists (which account for 75% of its business) as a unique collaborative partner on projects that push the boundaries of print. Work of particular note includes casebound books in presentation boxes featuring photographic essays of London’s Southwark area by Magnum photographer Steve McCurry for The South Bank Tower development and several retrospective themed volumes for photojournalist Don McCullin.

From Left: Jim Lunt (Opal Print Director), Claus Nielsen (AMS UK), Carsten Barlebo (AMS European MD) and Keith Lunt (Opal Print MD) with The South Bank Tower book featuring photography by Steve McCurry.

From Left: Jim Lunt (Opal Print Director), Claus Nielsen (AMS UK), Carsten Barlebo (AMS European MD) and Keith Lunt (Opal Print MD) with The South Bank Tower book featuring photography by Steve McCurry.

Soon to be history – build up of spray powder in the Opal Print Heidelberg CD74 5LX swan neck.

Soon to be history – build up of spray powder in the Opal Print Heidelberg CD74 5LX swan neck.

Last year Opal Print received a Special Commendation at the Antalis Awards for its production of a book featuring ‘naked stitching’ techniques for ‘The Quite Delightful Project’.

Claus Nielsen, AMS UK and Ireland Sales Executive, adds:

“We are delighted that Opal Print has chosen AMS as its partner in this project and we look forward to giving them every support, going forward. Of course, one of the benefits of our solution is that there is so little disruption to production during installation, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Opal’s craftsmen use this new technology to push the bounds of printing creativity.” 

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