It would appear that individuals in the personalization business are always searching for the “next BIG thing” in your industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation crafted a huge impact on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation will come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? The fact is, it just could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the business, then lasers did the same, and after that some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this method among the “next BIG things.” Along the way, other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite managed to make it towards the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty enthusiastic about the AcryliPrint procedure for inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is still a great process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the device that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there was clearly the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am just still holding out for this particular someone to pull off, but so far, just one or two passionate souls are adhering to me.
UV printing, however, is apparently undertaking a life of its very own. For quite a while now, it provides all but dominated the trade shows with a few really big names going for a marked curiosity about showing their printers, even though they knew these were out of the budget range for 95 percent of those walking the ground. 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 that happen to be displaying what appear to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of promoting for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we are hearing from trophy and award dealers is the fact their potential customers are seeking something new. The ability to add color is an ideal fit to augment anything they are offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when making an award is really gaining interest. For instance, a laser engraved as well as a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just like importantly, profit margin for that dealer. By having UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves using their competition.”
So what exactly is a UV printer? Well, let’s start out with the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light is undoubtedly an invisible (for the eye) form of light located in many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, in particular the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the matter of UV printing, a UV light source can be used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down by the printer.
UV inkjet printing differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As opposed to having solvents inside the ink that evaporate into the air and absorb to the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights that are built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it coming from a liquid to your solid. This technologies have several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the ability to print on a multitude of substrates, high print speeds and a variety of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? Facts are, a year or two ago, few individuals in our industry were very enthusiastic about this in any way. With price tags inside the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could consider a UV printer as being an option in the first place. But as time has passed, the costs have dropped and much more competition came in to the market, making both a significantly wider variety of printers and print possibilities and also price points-even to the stage that $20,000 are now able to buy a great deal of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a great deal price just as much as it is confusion and misinformation in regards to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and exactly how much market there is certainly to support one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my uv printer. The charge is nearly negligible and the markup could be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are ideal for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to make full-color plaques. This is also true by using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. Simply speaking, as with most personalization processes, there are things that would be best done with a UV printer and items that would be best carried out with other methods. UV printing isn’t a replacement for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only way to conduct a few.
I needed employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea how I could possibly have done this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print an excellent white image to create an opaque mask around the substrate after which print the total-color logo on top of it. That’s the level of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers present 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, including sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods in relation to the type of substrates it works together. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to function by any means. UV printing, on the other hand, could be used to print on numerous substrates of colors, textures, styles and sizes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t work towards everything. In reality, there are several substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky abide by without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can certainly spray an adhesion agent on the substrate throughout the printer nozzles while with other printers, you need to hand put it to use. In either case, there is no guarantee the ink will bond until it can be tested.
Adhesion then, in my view, becomes the largest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their very own inks and adhesion additives, with each is unique. What this means is it really is ultimately vital that you test the two inks and the printer to be certain they will likely work towards the substrates you would like to print prior to making any type of buying decision or offers to customers.
Together with having to learn about adhesion with textile printer, it is also essential that a potential buyer find out about the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but a majority of try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not be right for you. At one time, I presumed that this ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and consequently I printed work for exterior use. Unfortunately, I used to be 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 certainly not doubt their word, it could make me cautious-once burned and all that.