It seems that folks in the personalization business will always be looking to the “next BIG thing” in your industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation designed a huge impact 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 the industry, then lasers did a similar thing, and after that some major technological advancements in sublimation arrived cementing this method as one of the “next BIG things.” Along the way, several other likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite made it towards the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty looking forward to the AcryliPrint technique of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still a fantastic process nonetheless it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product nonetheless it never really became popular. Finally, there was the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am still patiently waiting for this anyone to take off, but to date, just one or two passionate souls are staying with me.
UV printing, however, is apparently taking over a life of its very own. For several years now, they have all but dominated the trade events with some really big names choosing a marked curiosity about showing their printers, whilst they knew they were out of the price range for 95 percent of your companion walking the ground. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which might be displaying what is apparently an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of marketing for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we’re hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their customers are trying to find something new. The ability to add color is a great fit to reinforce what they are currently offering. Even the power 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, just like importantly, profit margin for the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the seller will differentiate themselves using their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s focus on the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light can be an invisible (for the eye) way of light within many light sources, such as sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, especially the capacity to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV source of light is used for stopping (harden and solidify) the inks laid down from the printer.
The iUV-600XL from Graphics One, Inc. comes with a large flatbed table. Direct Color Systems’ flagship printer, the 1024UVMVP15, are prepared for a maximum substrate thickness of 15″.
UV inkjet printing is unique from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents inside ink that evaporate in the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which might be built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from your liquid with a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace health issues, the capacity to print on a wide number of substrates, high print speeds along with a wide range of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to baseballs.
So why should we be so looking forward to this developing technology? Truth is, annually or two ago, few people in our industry were very looking forward to this whatsoever. With price tags inside $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could you should consider a UV printer as a possible option inside the first place. But as the passed, the prices have dropped plus more competition has come to the market, making both a much wider selection of printers and print options available as well as price points—even to the point that $20,000 are now able to buy a large amount of printer.
Today, the challenge isn’t so much price up to it is confusion and misinformation about what a UV printer can and cannot do, and exactly how much market there’s to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using phone case printer. The cost is practically negligible and the markup can be substantial, but how many plaques are appropriate because of this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true having a hundred other products including sets from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, there’s personalization processes, you will find things that are best done having a UV printer and things which might be best finished with other methods. UV printing isn’t an upgraded for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only way to perform a few.
I had employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have not a clue how I could have done this with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a solid white image to produce an opaque mask around the substrate and then print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the type of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers present an attachment for printing cylindrical items for example water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is available from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds may be quite a challenge for most processes and with a few, like sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods when it comes towards the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, by way of example, usually requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work at all. UV printing, on the other hand, may be used to print with a wide selection of substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, exactly like 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 actually spray an adhesion agent for the substrate over the printer nozzles while with printers, you have to hand use it. Either way, there exists no ensure that the ink will bond until it’s tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the largest problem within the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each differs. This means it really is ultimately crucial that you test the inks and also the printer to ensure they will work on the substrates you need to print before making any kind of buying decision or intentions to customers.
Along with having to understand about adhesion with UV inks, it is also crucial that a potential buyer find out about the various properties of the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered most try to give a “one size fits all” recipe that will or might not exactly work for you. At one time, I presumed make fish an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and so I printed employment 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 most certainly not doubt their word, it might make me cautious—once burned and that.
One in the most popular options that come with 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 support one. This brings at least two questions in to 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 might be successfully printed with many UV inks, there is often a different story with plastic bottles that can be squeezed. These demand a flexible ink, so some with the printer manufacturers now present an ink that stretches around 200 percent.
The flexible ink option uncovers other applications, including printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility and several manufacturers have built their printers so you will find no paramagnetic (steel) parts that will interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the large number of inks available, a serious decision you have to make is choosing the best ink for the applications. Inks can’t be easily changed so once an ink is selected you happen to be pretty much bound to it for your duration. Ink changes are possible should you thoroughly clean the printer, but this may be time-consuming and is not suitable for job-to-job use.
Inks are usually specific to the manufacturer, and are generally the print heads and rails (the bars the heads and UV light run on). Some companies manufacture their very own print heads and rails, although many others use assemblies off their inkjet manufacturers, for example Ricoh and Epson. Depending for the print head, the printer may be capable of varying the size of the ink dot from as low as a couple of picoliters to as much as 20 picoliters. By varying the dot size, the printers are able to better manipulate ink density, which results in sharper images and colors that smoothly consist of one shade to another. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from inside the printer and it is software.
All UV printers come with many kind of RIP (Raster Image Processor) software drive an automobile and control these firmware options. Usually, the RIP software programs are developed through the manufacturer for any specific printer and has various functions, like translating images from a computer into raster devspky91 for your printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you may well not be able to talk and understand RIPs in different great detail, you can see the results inside printed image, like 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 crucial to look closely, compare results and have questions you may notice something that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right in 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 come back to make them definitely worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or more investment attached to these devices? It couldn’t come to be the ability to make one-up products as is the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is for the bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles might be personalized because they are printed, the real contribution from the textile printer is printing lots of products sticking with the same imprint—what we will call production.