The Starlight ASO (Adjustable Spectrum Output) UV LED Screen Exposure System was introduced in October by M&R at the SGIA 2017 Expo in New Orleans, US. The new system stands out thanks to its use of three independently adjustable nanometre ranges, which allows for greater screen-exposure flexibility.

Product manager Ron Hopkins explains, “For years we have developed light sources aimed at the light sensitivity of various emulsions. This is done by adding different metals to metal halide lamps in order to match the different emulsion requirements. Typical multispectral lamps cover an area from 350 to 450 nanometres. LEDs cover a much smaller area, typically 405nm (+/- 5nm). This works well with most emulsions, but there remained the need to cover a slightly wider spectrum. Our new Starlight ASO manages to fit three LEDs in the same area typically occupied by a single LED, and each of the three LEDs can cover a different nanometre range. Having the ability to adjust the amount of light separately on each of the three LEDs, as well as the ability to increase overall intensity, gives the operator the ability to customise the exposure light to the needs of specific emulsions.” Ron adds that for each range, the light output can be adjusted from 0%- 100%, allowing operators to increase or decrease the intensity to best match their preferred emulsion, even sensitive and fast-acting emulsions.

“In most exposure units the only adjustment available is exposure time,” he continues. “In some cases the exposures are down to tenths of a second. The ability to lower light intensity can extend exposure time, making precise exposures more manageable. In the same way, being able to independently adjust the nanometre ranges up or down to better match a particular emulsion gives operators the control they need to get the best results from each type.”

The original Starlight LED exposure unit was introduced at SGIA in 2013, and more than a thousand have been sold since. The Starlight ASO was in development for a year following requests from some emulsion manufacturers for a system capable of covering a wider nanometre range than that offered by other LED exposure units. It works particularly fast on photopolymer emulsions, and can expose screen frames up to 70cm x 102cm. A digital touchscreen controller automates the screen exposures, while the Job Recall feature allows operators to save and recall up to 24 vacuum and exposure profiles.

The Starlight ASO can be stand-mounted or used on a table top. The company says it’s ideal for conventional exposures, and an optional and easy to fit computer-to-screen (CTS) retrofit kit is available, which can turn it into a CTS UV LED screen exposure system.

Unlike metal halide bulbs that may need to be replaced every couple of years, the unit’s LEDs can last for decades, which is why it comes with a limited lifetime warranty against failure in normal use.

“Pre-production units have been beta-tested since September 2017 with excellent results. We expect production models to begin shipping in February of 2018,” reports Ron.