It seems that individuals in the personalization business are always looking for the “next BIG thing” in our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge impact on the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation arrive along that, yet again, 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 a, then lasers did the same thing, after which some major technological advancements in sublimation emerged cementing this technique as one with the “next BIG things.” Along the way, other likely candidates cropped up, however they never quite made it for the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint process 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 clearly the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there was the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am still longing for this you to definitely take off, but up to now, just one or two passionate souls are keeping me.
UV printing, however, looks like it’s taking with a life of a unique. For several years now, they have all but dominated the trade shows with some really big names choosing a marked curiosity about showing their printers, while they knew these were out of the cost range for 95 percent of individuals walking the floor. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are all hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which are displaying what is apparently an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of selling for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message were hearing from trophy and award dealers is always that their customers are trying to find something new. The capacity to add color is an ideal fit to augment what they are currently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when coming up with an award is actually gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved plus a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, in the same way importantly, profit margin for the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from other competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, as with ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (on the eye) kind of light present in many light sources, such as the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, especially the power to cure many photosensitive materials. In true of UV printing, a UV source of light is used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down with 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 differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents inside ink that evaporate into the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks face UV lights which are built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it from the liquid to some solid. This technology has many perks, including eliminating environmental and workplace health issues, the power to print with a wide selection of substrates, high print speeds along with a wide range of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so enthusiastic about this developing technology? Truth is, per year or two ago, few people inside our industry were very excited about this in any respect. With price tags inside the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could consider a UV printer as an option within the first place. But as the passed, the have dropped plus much more competition has come into the market, making both an extremely wider various printers and print possibilities open as well as price points—even towards the point that $20,000 can now buy a lot of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a great deal price just as much as it is confusion and misinformation about what a UV printer can and can’t do, and how much market there exists to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using uv printer. The cost is almost negligible and also the markup might be substantial, but how many plaques are appropriate for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true which has a hundred other products including from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, associated with pension transfer personalization processes, you will find things which might be best done having a UV printer and things which are best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t a replacement for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the only way to do a few.
I had a job recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea how I could have done this with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a good white image to create an opaque mask on the substrate and after that print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the level of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is accessible from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for the majority of processes and with a few, like sublimation, it’s extremely hard. UV printing can be more forgiving than other methods when it comes towards the type of substrates who’s works with. Sublimation, by way of example, normally requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work at all. UV printing, for the other hand, can be used to print over a wide number of substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t work on 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 over the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you’ll want to hand put it to use. Either way, there’s no guarantee the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the biggest problem inside UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each is different. This means it can be ultimately important that you test both inks as well as the printer to make sure they will work around the substrates you wish to print prior to making any kind of buying decision or offers to customers.
Along with having to find out about adhesion with UV inks, it’s also critical that a potential buyer discover the various properties in the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered most try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe which could or may not work for you. At one time, I presumed that an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and therefore I printed work for exterior use. Unfortunately, I was wrong along with 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 that.
One from the most popular features of UV printers recently has been the introduction of cylindrical devices for printing things like water bottles. I believe that cylindrical items are offered being an 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 is the software for setting up a cylindrical job and, two, do I need another specialized ink? Although metal water bottles may be successfully printed with most UV inks, there can be a different story with plastic bottles that could be squeezed. These demand a flexible ink, so some from the printer manufacturers now offer an ink that stretches approximately 200 percent.
The flexible ink option reveals other applications, such as printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility and some manufacturers have built their printers so you will find no paramagnetic (steel) parts that would interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the great number of inks available, a major decision you need to make is determing the best ink for your applications. Inks can’t easily be changed so once an ink is selected you are pretty much stuck with it for that duration. Ink changes are possible should you thoroughly clean the printer, but this might be time-consuming and is also not suitable for job-to-job use.
Inks usually are specific towards the manufacturer, and they are the print heads and rails (the bars the heads and UV light run on). Some companies manufacture their particular print heads and rails, although many others use assemblies using their company inkjet manufacturers, for example Ricoh and Epson. Depending around the print head, the printer could possibly be capable of varying the size with the ink dot from less than a couple of picoliters to just as much as 20 picoliters. By varying the dot size, the printers are better suited to manipulate ink density, which leads to sharper images and colors that smoothly consist of one shade to a different. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from the inside the printer and it is software.
All UV printers come with a few kind of RIP (Raster Image Processor) software drive an automobile and control these firmware options. Usually, the RIP software packages are developed from the manufacturer for a specific printer and has various functions, like translating images from the computer into raster devspky91 for that printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you might not exactly be able to talk and understand RIPs in a great detail, you will see the results inside printed image, including vivid reds, white-colored and the capacity to smoothly transition in one color to an alternative. When you’re considering buying a printer, it’s extremely important to look closely, compare results and ask questions when you see something that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right on the demo, it won’t look right when you invest in it home!
So where is the money in UV printers? What kinds of products produce enough return to make them definitely worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or even more investment that come with these devices? It couldn’t come to be the capacity to make one-up products as could be the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is to the bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles might be personalized as is also printed, the contribution of the textile printer is printing plenty of products with the same imprint—what we’re going to call production.