Infrared Dryers for the Printing and Mailing Industries
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Infrared Dryers for Printing and Mailing Industries
In recent years, inkjet technology has moved into many printing applications, such as transaction printing, direct mail, and booklets. No longer is the printing industry printing to shelf, to hold for sales, as now items can be printed to order. The industry has begun printing and moving directly to mailing, invoking lots of advancements in fully machinable systems. Inkjet systems are capable of printing at faster speeds than traditional toner-based equipment. (Ref 1,2)
This requires specific inkjet printing software and essential workflow software. Inkjet also has the ability to sequence different jobs with minimal paper and consumable use between them. Waste costs are dramatically reduced by up to 15-20% by switching to inkjet systems. (3)
Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) is the most commonly used inkjet technology for commercial markets. The printheads used have reliably shown the ability to deliver quality that is nearly identical to traditional lithography. (4)
There are three main inkjet printhead technologies in use today. Continuous Inkjet continuously circulates ink through the print head. Piezoelectric printheads use nozzles to create ink droplets only when needed by delivering an electric signal to a piezo crystal. And thermal printheads create drops of ink by a heating element that also delivers drop-on-demand. (4,5)
Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) is the most commonly used inkjet technology for commercial markets. The printheads used have reliably shown the ability to deliver quality that is nearly identical to traditional lithography. (4,6)
Because piezoelectric printheads and thermal printheads are closer to the media, quality is lower due to a lower drop velocity resulting in less than perfect drops. CIJ is capable of placing perfect drops every time at high speed (5-10x faster than other technologies), making it a clear winner for most applications. (4)
Methods for Drying Inkjet
When a company switches over to inkjet printing, it must also invest and plan for the drying process. Many other industries, such as professional carpet and rug care, home painting, hairstylists, understand drying is a key element of ensuring a high-quality end product or service…the printing industry understands this importance as well.
Equipment will need to be purchased to dry the product to avoid ink smudges or smears that would decrease quality for the client. The industry has four main technologies for drying to choose from, and many of these can be combined to improve results. (7)
Phase change technology uses heated inkjet ink and heads, combined with chemicals in the ink or paper, that harden when the ink contacts the paper. The final product does not really penetrate the paper and often produces a raised surface. Unfortunately, this makes the final product prone to scratching. This technology offers a quick, low energy, simple drying solution. (7)
UV radiation curing is popular commercially. LED lamps have advantages over mercury lamps because of lower energy consumption and lower temperatures while also avoiding the environmental and safety concerns associated with mercury. UV inks are most commonly used for printing mailing labels because wide UV printers are not used often for document printing. (7)
Absorption is incredibly easy for the commercial industry to use as there is no drying equipment needed, but it has its drawbacks. A solvent is used to cause the ink components to absorb into the paper. The self-drying process takes longer and investing in improved substrates can become costly. (7)
Commercial document production most frequently uses evaporation to dry inks. Evaporation uses heat and airflow to dry the liquid, either water or organic, the inks are dissolved in. Evaporation drying requires a specific balance struck between using the appropriate heat to dry the ink without removing too much moisture from the paper and having proper airflow. (7,8)
While there exist evaporation systems that use hot air nozzles (impingement drying) and heated belts, the best choice is to employ Infrared radiation technology. IR radiation doesn't create a chemical reaction like UV radiation does, but instead, the radiation heats the ink and dries the liquid content. For most printing applications, the absorption peak of the water within the ink is usually best reached by using short or medium wave infrared. (7,8)
The produced ink is thin, and this process is well-suited for high speeds while maintaining environmental friendliness. One of the most attractive qualities, when convincing clients to switch to infrared drying is the vibrant inks produced by the rapid drying process. (7)
IR drying systems are often customized by each company to suit their specific needs. Interested buyers are able to select from electric or fuel gas infrared systems. Electric systems provide more flexibility to manufacturers, as they are quickly able to be turned on and off, to keep the heat inside the system the ideal temperature. Electrical systems can also provide more intense heat, compared to gas, which is better at providing well-controlled, low-intensity heat. Even with the cost savings of infrared dryer systems, gas will save even more than electric systems because the fuel is cheaper. (10)
Leading Infrared Dryer Manufacturers
Some of the leading infrared dryer manufactures are the following: Kerone, Adphos, Bladwin Technology Company, Walco Systems, Fannon Products, and M&R.
The printer and mailing industry relies on more than just paper products cut down by professional tree services. The industry also relies on efficient and effective drying techniques for printouts. Infrared drying is one technology and method in common use to make high-quality end products. This article summarizes the state of play with this technology.
Also, driir.com recommends only discarding excess print material and waste products by eco-friendly means. Protecting the environment is the collective responsibility of the global community of citizens and businesses alike. Furthermore, proper recycling and disposal of technology such as infrared dyers is also necessary to protect our environment for future generations. Driir.com recommends utilizing proper recycling and disposal means, such as by professional junk removal services.
This information on infrared dryers is provided for the benefit of those in the printing and mailing industries. Its content is intended to assist businesses in these industries known what professional technology and tools are available. This information is also sponsored by the local experts in Waldorf, Maryland, including the deck and patio cleaning experts of Pressure Washing Aces of Waldorf.
Works Cited & References (Verified/accessed between Dec 17-20, 2020)
1. How Current Printing Industry and Inkjet Technology Trends are Impact Mailing Operations - Webinar. Inkjet Insight (2020). https://inkjetinsight.com/segment/direct-marketing/how-current-printing-industry-and-inkjet-technology-trends-are-impact-mailing-operations/.
2. Fallon, M. M. The Move From Less Paper to More Technology. Printing Impressions (2019). https://www.piworld.com/post/less-paper-upheaval-print-mail-industry/.
3. Pete Basiliere provides research-based insights on 3D printing and digital-printing hardware. Change in the High Volume Inkjet Printing Industry. Inkjet Insight (2020). https://inkjetinsight.com/knowledge-base/change-in-the-high-volume-inkjet-printing-industry/.
4. Continuous Inkjet Firmly Entrenched in Commercial Markets. Inkjet Insight (2020). https://inkjetinsight.com/knowledge-base/sponsored-continuous-inkjet-firmly-entrenched-in-commercial-markets/.
5. Piezoelectric Print Heads Vs. Thermal Print Heads. Alder Color Solutions (2020). Available at: https://aldertech.com/piezoelectric-print-heads-vs-thermal-print-heads/.
6. How CIJ Printers (Continuous Inkjet Printers) Work. https://www.markem-imaje.us/article/24-02-2014-how-cij-printers-continuous-inkjet-printers-work.
7. Scholzer, Ralf. The Top 4 Drying Methods for Inkjet. Inkjet Insight (2020). https://inkjetinsight.com/knowledge-base/the-top-4-drying-methods-for-inkjet/.
8. What Is IR Drying? A Summary: Baldwin Technology Company. Baldwin Technology. https://baldwintech.com/what-is-ir-drying.
9. Curing and Drying Operations: The Pros and Cons of Infrared Heating. https://www.we-energies.com/business/energyeff/curingdrying.pdf.