It would appear that folks from the personalization business are always trying to find the “next BIG thing” in your industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge impact on the business. So what’s next? What magical innovation may come along that, again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? Facts are, it really could possibly be, and here’s why.
Many years ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did the same thing, and then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this method as among the “next BIG things.” As you go along, several other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite caused it to be on the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint process of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It can be still an incredible process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was the program that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, quite a nice product but it never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am just still holding out for this particular anyone to pull off, but up to now, just a few passionate souls are adhering to me.
UV printing, however, appears to be undertaking a lifetime of its very own. For many years now, it has all but dominated the industry events with some really big names having a marked curiosity about showing their printers, even though they knew these people were out of your cost range for 95 percent of those walking the floor. 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 can be displaying what seems to be progressively more models.
Steve Gluskin, director of marketing for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we are hearing from trophy and award dealers is their clientele are looking for something totally new. The cabability to add color is a great fit to enhance anything they are offering. Even the ability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is absolutely gaining interest. As an example, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, in the same way importantly, profit margin for your dealer. With the addition of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what exactly is really a UV printer? Well, let’s start out with the UV part, as with ultraviolet light. UV light is undoubtedly an invisible (for the eye) type of light present in many light sources, including the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the capability to cure many photosensitive materials. When it comes to UV printing, a UV source of light can be used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down through the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents inside the ink that evaporate in the air and absorb to the substrate, UV inks are subjected to UV lights that are built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it coming from a liquid to a solid. This technologies have several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace health problems, the ability to print on numerous substrates, high print speeds and a wide array of printing applications including outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why then should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? The fact is, a couple of years ago, few people inside our industry were very interested in this by any means. With costs inside the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could seriously consider a UV printer being an option from the beginning. But as time has passed, the prices have dropped and a lot more competition comes in to the market, making both a far wider assortment of printers and print possibilities in addition to price points-even to the stage that $20,000 are now able to buy plenty of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a great deal price as much as it really is confusion and misinformation as to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there is to aid one.
For example, I occasionally print a plaque using my small uv printer. The cost is almost negligible as well as the markup can be substantial, but how many plaques are ideal for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, there are actually things which are best finished with a UV printer and things that would be best finished with other methods. UV printing isn’t another one for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only way to do a few.
I had employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i may have done this with every other process. UV printing was perfect because I was able to print a good white image to generate an opaque mask about the substrate and after that print the entire-color logo along with it. That’s the sort of job UV printers work great at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items for example water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is offered from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for many processes along with some, like sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing is additionally more forgiving than other methods in relation to the particular substrates it works together. Sublimation, for example, nearly always demands a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective in any way. UV printing, on the other hand, enables you to print on a wide variety of substrates of all colors, textures, sizes and shapes. But, exactly like other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. The truth is, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky comply with without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can in fact spray an adhesion agent around the substrate with the printer nozzles while with many other printers, you have to hand apply it. In any case, there is not any ensure that the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the biggest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and each differs. This simply means it is ultimately vital that you test the two inks along with the printer to be certain they may work on the substrates you want to print prior to making any sort of buying decision or offers to customers.
In addition to having to learn about adhesion with garment printer, it is also critical that a possible buyer learn about the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but most try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not meet your needs. At one time, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and therefore I printed a job 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 most certainly not doubt their word, it might cause me to cautious-once burned and all of that.