It seems that folks in the personalization business will almost always be looking for your “next BIG thing” within our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation designed a huge affect the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation will 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 exactly the same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation arrived cementing this procedure as one in the “next BIG things.” Along the way, a number of other likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite made it on the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty pumped up about the AcryliPrint technique of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still an incredible process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there is the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product nevertheless it never really became popular. Finally, there is the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am still longing for this one to take off, but up to now, just one or two passionate souls are keeping me.
UV printing, however, seems to be taking on the life of its own. 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, while they knew they were out of the budget range for 95 percent of your companion walking the bottom. 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 might be displaying what appears to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of promoting 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 an ideal fit to enhance what they are currently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is really gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved plus a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just as importantly, profit margin for the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves off their competition.”
So what exactly is often a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, as with ultraviolet light. UV light can be an invisible (for the eye) kind of light found in many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, especially the capability to cure many photosensitive materials. In true 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. includes a large flatbed table. Direct Color Systems’ flagship printer, the 1024UVMVP15, are equipped for a maximum substrate thickness of 15″.
UV inkjet printing differs from the others from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents in the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks face UV lights which are built in the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it from your liquid to your solid. This technology has many perks, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the ability to print over a wide selection of substrates, high print speeds as well as a wide range of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to projectiles.
So why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? Truth is, per year or two ago, few people within our industry were very enthusiastic about this at all. With price tags within the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could seriously consider a UV printer just as one option within the first place. But as the years have passed, the costs have dropped plus much more competition has come in to the market, making both a significantly wider selection of printers and print solutions as well as price points—even to the point that $20,000 can buy a large amount of printer.
Today, the problem isn’t a great deal price around it is confusion and misinformation in what a UV printer can and cannot do, and just how much market there’s to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using phone case printer. The cost is actually negligible and the markup could be substantial, so how many plaques are appropriate just for this technology? Remember, sublimation doubles to create full-color plaques. The same is true having a hundred other products including anything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, you can find things which might be best done with a UV printer and things which can be best done with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but a substitute for do most jobs along with the only way to perform a few.
I had a job recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no clue how I may have done this with any other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a good white image to create an opaque mask around the substrate and after that print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the sort of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items such as water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is accessible from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds could be quite a challenge for some processes and with some, including sublimation, it’s extremely hard. UV printing is additionally more forgiving than other methods when it comes for the type of substrates that it works with. Sublimation, as an example, often requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work in any respect. UV printing, around the other hand, might be used to print on the wide number of substrates of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, just like other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. In fact, there are many substrates that UV inks is not going to adhere to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can spray an adhesion agent around the substrate over the printer nozzles while with other printers, you should hand use it. Either way, there is certainly no ensure that the ink will bond until it can be tested.
Adhesion then, i think, becomes the biggest problem inside UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each differs from the others. This means it can be ultimately crucial that you test both inks and the printer to make sure they will work for the substrates you wish to print before you make any kind of buying decision or intentions to customers.
Along with having to understand about adhesion with UV inks, it can be also important that a potential buyer find out about the various properties of the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but a majority of try to give you a “one size fits all” recipe which could or may well not work for you. At one time, I presumed that an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and so 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 most certainly not doubt their word, it might make me cautious—once burned and many types of that.
One from the most popular popular features of UV printers recently may be the introduction of cylindrical devices for printing things like water bottles. I believe that cylindrical products are offered as a possible option for every printer with enough throat to accommodate one. This brings at the very least two questions into the light: One, how user-friendly is the software for starting a cylindrical job and, two, do I need another specialized ink? Although metal water bottles can be successfully printed with a lot of UV inks, there can be a different story with plastic bottles that could be squeezed. These demand a flexible ink, so some in the printer manufacturers now produce an ink that stretches approximately 200 percent.
The flexible ink option reveals other applications, for example printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility plus some manufacturers have built their printers so there are no paramagnetic (steel) parts that will interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the multitude of inks available, an important decision you have to make is determing the best ink on your applications. Inks can’t simply be changed so once an ink is selected you are pretty much bound to it for your duration. Ink changes are possible should you thoroughly clean the printer, but this can be time-consuming and is not appropriate for job-to-job use.
Inks are usually specific on the manufacturer, and are also the print heads and rails (the bars the heads and UV light operate on). Some companies manufacture their unique print heads and rails, even though many others use assemblies from other inkjet manufacturers, for example Ricoh and Epson. Depending for the print head, the printer could 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 better suited to manipulate ink density, which results in sharper images and colors that smoothly differ from one shade to a new. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from inside the printer and its particular 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 is developed through the manufacturer to get a specific printer and it has various functions, such as translating images out of your computer into raster devspky91 for your printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you might not be able to talk and understand RIPs in a great detail, you can see the results within the printed image, for example vivid reds, white-colored and the capacity to smoothly transition from one color to a different. When you happen to be considering investing in a printer, it’s extremely important to look closely, compare results and have questions you may notice something that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right at the demo, it won’t look right when you invest in it home!
So where may be the money in UV printers? What kinds of products produce enough go back to make them well worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or more investment that come with these devices? It couldn’t come to be the capability to make one-up products as will be the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is for the bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles may be personalized because they are printed, the real contribution in the dtg printer is printing a great deal of products with the same imprint—what we will call production.