29 January 2017 Business

Baldwin buys AMS to combine drying skills

Baldwin Technology has acquired LED UV leader AMS to lead consolidation in the sector.

Baldwin has bought LED UV specialist AMS, a deal which links its own conventional UV expertise with the increasingly popular LED alternative.

Baldwin will revive the Spectral brand, the Slough company which was a pioneer of the assisted drying technology, making the new operation AMS Spectral UV. It will be headed by Steve Metcalf, CEO of AMS. Pat Keogh, one of the leaders (terminology used by Baldwin’s owner Barry-Wehmiller for its managers) of the new business comes from the Baldwin side.

He explains that the existing alliances will continue. Baldwin worked closely with Komori in development of H-UV, using adapted conventional UV lamps, and has an ink partnership with Toyo. AMS has worked with KBA in supplying LED UV for new presses and with Flint on matching ink technology.

“As Baldwin we have supplied LED in Japan, but cannot push it because of our association with Komori, while AMS have done an incredible job in the market place with LED.

“We approached them before Drupa 2016 to ask if they would be interested in becoming part of the consolidation and growth in the sector.”

There are forecasts that demand for LED UV will create a $1 billion market over the next five years. And there are signs that demand for LED UV curing is expanding beyond litho and inkjet printing into more industrial markets.

Baldwin, as part of a fast developing corporation, has the resources to exploit the new opportunity which AMS as a private company could not. Baldwin is also perhaps more associated with blanket washing and fount systems than drying technology, hence the decision to recall the Spectral name as part of the expanded operation, says Barry-Wehmiller.

Its expertise covers IR as well as UV curing. And this will give it greater clout as an OEM supplier to press manufacturers. “We want presses to have our technology built in, rather like HP or Dell are building computers with Intel inside,” he explains, “or how in-car entertainment is provided by third parties, not the car manufacturer. We want people to understand that there is an advantage to buying a machine with our technology installed inside it.”

An immediate growth area is in drying for water based corrugated printing which is rapidly adopting direct to board four-colour printing. The challenge is to have the boards dry before they reach the die cutting section. Inkjet printing provides another opportunity for IR drying technology.

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