It would appear that people inside the personalization business will always be looking for the “next BIG thing” in our industry. Years back, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation crafted a huge influence on the business. So what’s next? What magical innovation may come along that, once again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? The fact is, it merely could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the business, then lasers did the same, then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this method among the “next BIG things.” As you go along, a number of other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite made it for the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty enthusiastic about the AcryliPrint procedure of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It can be still a fantastic process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product nevertheless it never really took off. Finally, there is the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am just still holding out with this anyone to take off, but thus far, only a few passionate souls are staying with me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking up a life of its unique. For many years now, it provides all but dominated the trade events with a bit of really big names going for a marked curiosity about showing their printers, though they knew these folks were out from the budget 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 typical hosting several manufacturers of UV printers that happen to be displaying what is apparently an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of advertising for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message our company is hearing from trophy and award dealers is their clients are seeking something new. The capability to add color is a great fit to augment anything they are offering. Even the cabability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when producing an award is very gaining interest. As an example, a laser engraved along with a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin for the dealer. With the addition of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light is undoubtedly an invisible (towards the eye) method of light located in many light sources, such as the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, particularly the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV light source is commonly used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down by the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Rather than having solvents in the ink that evaporate in to the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks are open to UV lights that happen to be built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to change it from the liquid to some solid. This technology has several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the opportunity to print on numerous substrates, high print speeds and a variety of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? The reality is, a year or two ago, few individuals within our industry were very pumped up about this whatsoever. With prices in the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t lots of people who could think about a UV printer being an option to start with. But as time has passed, the values have dropped plus more competition has arrived in to the market, making both a lot wider selection of printers and print options available as well as price points-even to the point that $20,000 can now buy a great deal of printer.
Today, the trouble isn’t a lot price around it is actually confusion and misinformation about what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there is to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The fee is nearly negligible along with the markup can be substantial, but just how many plaques are appropriate for this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same is true by using a hundred other products including anything from metal plates to plastic toys. Simply speaking, much like most personalization processes, there are things that are the best finished with a UV printer and stuff that work best carried out with other methods. UV printing isn’t a substitute for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the only method to do a few.
I had a job recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i might have done this with any other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print an excellent white image to create an opaque mask about the substrate and then print the full-color logo on the top of it. That’s the sort of job UV printers work great at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items such as water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment can be obtained from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for the majority of processes with some, for example sublimation, it’s extremely difficult. UV printing is likewise more forgiving than other methods in terms of the sort of substrates it works with. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always needs a special polyester-coated substrate to work whatsoever. UV printing, however, can be used to print on numerous substrates of all the colors, textures, sizes and shapes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t work on everything. In reality, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers may actually spray an adhesion agent about the substrate throughout the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you have to hand apply it. In any event, there is absolutely no ensure the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the greatest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and each differs. This means it really is ultimately crucial that you test both the inks and also the printer to make sure they are going to focus on the substrates you wish to print before making any kind of buying decision or promises to customers.
In addition to having to learn about adhesion with textile printer, it is also crucial that a possible buyer find out about the various properties of your inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but most try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that might or might not meet your needs. At the same time, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and therefore I printed work for exterior use. Unfortunately, I had been wrong and also the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would personally most certainly not doubt their word, it could cause me to cautious-once burned and all of that.