It seems that people in the personalization business will always be looking for the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation developed a huge influence on the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation arrive along that, again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Could it be UV printers? Truth is, it might be, and here’s why.
Many years ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the, then lasers did a similar thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation arrived cementing this method as one from the “next BIG things.” Along the way, many likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite made it to the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty looking forward to the AcryliPrint procedure for inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still an excellent process nonetheless it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there is the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a reasonably nice product but it never really shot to popularity. Finally, there was the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am still longing for this anyone to take off, but up to now, only some passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, seems to be taking over a life of its. For several years now, they have all but dominated the industry events with some really big names having a marked fascination with showing their printers, while they knew they were out of the budget range for 95 percent of the people walking the ground. 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 which are displaying what appears to be 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 always that their customers are trying to find something new. The power to add color is an ideal fit to reinforce what they are currently offering. Even the power to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when making an award is basically gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved plus a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just like importantly, profit margin for that dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the dealership will differentiate themselves off their competition.”
So what exactly is really a UV printer? Well, let’s focus on the UV part, such as ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (towards the eye) form of light within many light sources, such as sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, particularly the capacity to cure many photosensitive materials. In the situation of UV printing, a UV source of light is used to cure (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 equipped for a maximum substrate thickness of 15″.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents within the ink that evaporate into the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which can be built to the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from the liquid with a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the capacity to print over a wide selection of substrates, high print speeds along with a wide range of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to baseballs.
So why should we be so looking forward to this developing technology? Truth is, per year or two ago, few people within our industry were very excited about this whatsoever. With price tags inside $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could consider a UV printer as an option within the first place. But as the passed, the prices have dropped plus much more competition has come in the market, making both a significantly wider variety of printers and print solutions as well as price points—even towards the point that $20,000 can 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 should not do, and exactly how much market there is certainly to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using uv printer. The cost is nearly negligible and the markup might be substantial, but wait, how many plaques are appropriate because of this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true with a hundred other products including sets from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, there’s personalization processes, you’ll find things which might be best done which has a UV printer and things which might be best done with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only way to complete a few.
I had employment 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 solid white image to generate an opaque mask about the substrate after which print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the sort of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers produce 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 could be quite a challenge for many processes and by incorporating, for example sublimation, it’s almost impossible. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods when it comes on the type of substrates that it works with. Sublimation, for example, normally requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work in any respect. UV printing, for the other hand, may be used to print with a wide various substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, just like other processes, it doesn’t work with everything. In fact, you will find many substrates that UV inks won’t adhere to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can certainly spray an adhesion agent on the substrate with the printer nozzles while with other printers, you should hand put it to use. Either way, there exists no ensure the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the most important problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their unique inks and adhesion additives, and each is different. This means it’s ultimately essential that you test both the inks and also the printer to ensure they will work for the substrates you need to print prior to making any kind of buying decision or offers to customers.
Along with having to understand about adhesion with UV inks, it is also essential 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 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 also 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 could make me cautious—once burned and 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 tools are offered just as one option for every printer with plenty throat to accommodate one. This brings at the very least two questions in to the light: One, how user-friendly may be the software for starting a cylindrical job and, two, do I need another specialized ink? Although metal water bottles might be successfully printed with a lot of UV inks, there is a different story with plastic bottles that can be squeezed. These have to have a flexible ink, so some with the printer manufacturers now present an ink that stretches up to 200 percent.
The flexible ink option reveals other applications, for example printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility and a few manufacturers have built their printers so there are no paramagnetic (steel) parts that would interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the large number of inks available, a serious decision you should make is discovering the right ink for the applications. Inks can’t be changed so once an ink is selected you’re pretty much stuck with it for that duration. Ink changes are possible in the event you thoroughly clean the printer, but this might be time-consuming and it is not appropriate for job-to-job use.
Inks usually are 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 own print heads and rails, even though many others use assemblies business inkjet manufacturers, such as Ricoh and Epson. Depending for the print head, the printer could 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 able to manipulate ink density, which ends up in sharper images and colors that smoothly change from one shade to a different. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from the inside the printer and its particular software.
All UV printers come with some kind of RIP (Raster Image Processor) software to operate a vehicle and control these firmware options. Usually, the RIP software program is developed through the manufacturer for any specific printer and possesses various functions, including translating images from the computer into raster devspky91 for your printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you might not be able to talk and understand RIPs in different great detail, you can see the results within the printed image, such as vivid reds, white-colored and the power to smoothly transition from one color to a new. When you’re considering investing in 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’re getting it home!
So where may be the money in UV printers? What kinds of products produce enough go back to make them really worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or maybe more investment mounted on these devices? It couldn’t often be the power to make one-up products as could be the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is for the bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles could be personalized as they are printed, the contribution with the t-shirt printer is printing a great deal of products with the exact same imprint—what we will call production.