It seems that individuals in the personalization business are always looking for that “next BIG thing” in your industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge influence on the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation should come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Could it be UV printers? Truth is, it just might be, and here’s why.
Many years ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized that is a, then lasers did the same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation arrived cementing this procedure as one from the “next BIG things.” Along the way, other likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite made it towards the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint means of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still an incredible process nonetheless it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a reasonably nice product but it never really took off. Finally, there is the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am still holding out for this one to take off, but to date, just one or two passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, is apparently taking on the life of a unique. For several years now, it’s got all but dominated the trade shows with some really big names going for a marked desire for showing their printers, even though they knew these were out of the price range for 95 percent of your companion walking a floor. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are common hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which are displaying what looks like it’s an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of selling for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their customers are searching for something new. The power to add color is a great fit to enhance what they are currently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when creating an award is absolutely gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved as well as a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just as importantly, profit margin to the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what exactly is often a UV printer? Well, let’s focus on the UV part, such as ultraviolet light. UV light can be an invisible (to the eye) kind of light present in many light sources, including the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, especially the power to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV source of light is used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down by the printer.
The iUV-600XL from Graphics One, Inc. incorporates a large flatbed table. Direct Color Systems’ flagship printer, the 1024UVMVP15, are designed for a maximum substrate thickness of 15″.
UV inkjet printing is unique from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents inside the ink that evaporate in to the air and absorb into the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which are built to the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from the liquid to some solid. This technology has many perks, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the ability to print on the wide various substrates, high print speeds and a wide range of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to tennis balls.
So why should we be so enthusiastic about this developing technology? Truth is, a year or two ago, few people in our industry were very excited about this whatsoever. With price tags inside $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t a lot of people who could you should consider a UV printer as a possible option in the first place. But as the years have passed, the costs have dropped and much more competition has come into the market, making both an extremely wider selection of printers and print possibilities as well as price points—even to the point that $20,000 can buy a lot of printer.
Today, the situation isn’t a lot price around it is confusion and misinformation about what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there is certainly to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using uv flatbed printer. The cost is actually negligible as well as the markup may be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are appropriate because of this technology? Remember, sublimation doubles to create full-color plaques. The same is true using a hundred other products including sets from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, you can find things which can be best done having a UV printer and things that are best carried out with other methods. UV printing isn’t a replacement for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and also the only way to do a few.
I had employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have not a clue how I may have done this with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print an excellent white image to generate an opaque mask on the substrate after which print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the kind of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment can be acquired from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds may be quite a challenge for the majority of processes and with a few, such as sublimation, it’s almost impossible. UV printing is additionally more forgiving than other methods when it comes to the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, by way of example, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work whatsoever. UV printing, about the other hand, may be used to print on the wide number of substrates of most colors, textures, shapes and forms. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t develop everything. In fact, you will find many substrates that UV inks is not going to adhere to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can in fact spray an adhesion agent for the substrate from the printer nozzles while with other printers, you need to hand apply it. Either way, there is no ensure the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, i believe, becomes the most important problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own inks and adhesion additives, and each is different. This means it is ultimately important that you test both the inks along with the printer to be sure they will work around the substrates you want to print before making any kind of buying decision or intentions to customers.
Along with having to find out about adhesion with UV inks, it can be also essential that a potential buyer discover the various properties with the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but most try to give a “one size fits all” recipe that could or may well not work for you. At one time, I presumed make fish an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe thereby I printed a career for exterior use. Unfortunately, I was wrong and the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would certainly not doubt their word, it will make me cautious—once burned and all sorts of that.
One with the most popular top features of UV printers recently continues to be the introduction of cylindrical devices for printing such things as water bottles. I believe that cylindrical items are offered as a possible option for every printer with enough throat to match one. This brings at the very least two questions in the light: One, how user-friendly could be the software for setting up a cylindrical job and, two, do I need another specialized ink? Although metal water bottles can be successfully printed with many UV inks, there is a different story with plastic bottles that may be squeezed. These need a flexible ink, so some from the printer manufacturers now offer an ink that stretches up to 200 percent.
The flexible ink option uncovers other applications, such as printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility plus some manufacturers have built their printers so you will find no paramagnetic (steel) parts that would interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the large number of inks available, a major decision you need to make is finding the right ink for your applications. Inks can’t be changed so once an ink is selected you are pretty much bound to it to the duration. Ink changes are possible in case you thoroughly clean the printer, but this may be time-consuming and is also not suited to job-to-job use.
Inks are generally specific towards the manufacturer, and are generally the print heads and rails (the bars the heads and UV light run using). Some companies manufacture their particular print heads and rails, although many others use assemblies business inkjet manufacturers, including Ricoh and Epson. Depending around the print head, the printer might be capable of varying the size of the ink dot from as low as a couple of picoliters to around 20 picoliters. By varying the dot size, the printers are better suited to manipulate ink density, which ends up in sharper images and colors that smoothly consist of one shade to another. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from within the printer and its software.
All UV printers come with some kind of RIP (Raster Image Processor) software to drive and control these firmware options. Usually, the RIP software program is developed by the manufacturer for the specific printer and contains various functions, like translating images from a computer into raster devspky91 for that printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you may well not be able to talk and understand RIPs in a great detail, you can observe the results in the printed image, including vivid reds, bright white and the power to smoothly transition in one color to an alternative. When you might be considering getting a printer, it’s extremely important to look closely, compare results and enquire of questions if you see something that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right with the demo, it won’t look right when you are getting it home!
So where will be the money in UV printers? What kinds of products produce enough resume make them well worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or maybe more investment that come with these devices? It couldn’t often be the capacity to make one-up products as is the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is to the bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles may be personalized as is also printed, the actual contribution in the t-shirt printer is printing a lot of products sticking with the same imprint—what we’ll call production.