The V-Lux Upright UV-LED Exposure Unit, developed by the engineering department of Exile Technologies in Houston, Texas, offers decorators a low energy, fast alternative to the traditional metal-halide exposure units.

The V-Lux has a vertical door design for quick and simple loading and unloading of the screens, and the UV-LED panel has multiple rows of LEDs to ensure full, focused and consistent coverage of the screen area. “These LEDs are optimised for fast and accurate exposure without a glass or vacuum, with pure photopolymer emulsions typically exposing in 10 seconds or less depending on mesh count,“ reports managing director Mark Evans. “Dual cure emulsions take a bit longer but will still be 20 30 seconds typically, even on low mesh counts. 

“When combined with a Spyder II computer-to-screen (CTS) imaging system, which has typical imaging times of 60 secs or less, customers can produce 50+ screens per hour.” Exile‘s experience with its Expose DTS system, an under-the-counter unit that it sells with the FreeStyler, a direct-to-screen imaging system, confirmed the team‘s belief that UV-LEDs were the future.

The new V-Lux has a vertical door for quick and simple loading

“Also, the space-saving design of that unit gave us the idea to make the V-Lux a vertical design to save floor space,“ adds Mark.  He continues: “UV-LED systems use about 20% of the power of metal-halide units while operating and also provide additional savings because they only consume energy when screens are actually being exposed. Unlike LEDs, metal-halide bulbs take about a half minute to warm up, and turning them on and off ages them more quickly. 

“Traditional light sources such as fluorescent and metal halide bulbs degrade over time, delivering less intensity as the bulbs age and thus requiring light integration to adjust screen-exposure times. In contrast, UV-LEDs are actually chips, not bulbs, and they do not degrade as they age. A properly manufactured 395-nm LED should always deliver that wavelength and bulb strength for its entire life-span.” There are two V-Lux models currently available: the V-Lux and the V-Lux-XL. The difference between the two is size: the V-Lux supports screen sizes up to 40“ by 30“, to complement the Spyder II 30“ CTS system, and the V-Lux-XL supports screens up to 60“ by 53“, to complement the Spyder II 52“ CTS system. 

The V-Lux is operated by an LCD touchscreen

The first unit was sold in the UK in February this year. Twelve have now been sold in the UK: eight with new Spyder IIs, and four to existing Spyder customers. Feedback has been fantastic thanks to the quick exposure time, low energy usage and small footprint, confirms Mark. He says printers making 40-50 screens a day will see a return on investment in 24 months or less, although he notes that Exile does have some customers running only 20-30 screens a day for whom the stencil quality improvements were an important part of the purchase decision. The V-Lux is operated by an LCD touchscreen with 15 fully programmable, user-defined memory presets for storing different mesh count and emulsion type set-ups, and offers fully automatic or manual operating modes. The V-Lux is priced at £5,500 and the V-Lux-XL is £9,500.