It seems that people in the personalization business will almost always be looking to the “next BIG thing” in your industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation created a huge affect the industry. So what’s next? What magical innovation can come along that, once more, 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 a, then lasers did a similar thing, and then some major technological advancements in sublimation arrived cementing this technique as one with 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 pumped up about the AcryliPrint means of 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 however it never really shot to popularity. Finally, there is the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am still longing for this one to take off, but thus far, only a few passionate souls are keeping me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking with a life of its very own. For several years now, it’s all but dominated the trade events with some really big names choosing a marked desire for showing their printers, but they knew these folks were out of the cost range for 95 percent of your companion walking the floor. 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 are displaying what seems 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 always that their customers are seeking something new. The capacity to add color is an ideal fit to augment what they are currently offering. Even the capacity to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when coming up with an award is basically gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin for the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the seller will differentiate themselves off their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s begin with the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (on the eye) kind of light within many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, in particular the power to cure many photosensitive materials. In the situation of UV printing, a UV light is used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down from 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 is unique from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents in the ink that evaporate in to the air and absorb in to the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which might be built to the printer which quickly cure the ink to change it coming from a liquid with a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the power to print on a wide number of substrates, high print speeds and a wide range of printing applications including outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so looking forward to this developing technology? Truth is, annually or two ago, few people in your industry were very excited about this in any respect. With price tags in the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could you should consider a UV printer just as one option within the first place. But as the passed, the costs have dropped and 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 for the point that $20,000 are now able to buy a large amount of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t so much price up to it is confusion and misinformation by what a UV printer can and should not do, and the way much market there is certainly to support one.
For instance, I occasionally print a plaque using phone case printer. The cost is nearly negligible along with the markup can be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are appropriate for this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true having a hundred other products including from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, associated with pension transfer personalization processes, you will find things that are best done using a UV printer and things which are best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but a substitute for do most jobs as well as 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 idea how I may have done this with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a great white image to make an opaque mask on the substrate and after that print the full-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 including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment can be obtained from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for some processes and with a few, for example sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods when it comes for the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, as an example, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work in any respect. UV printing, about the other hand, might be used to print on the wide variety of substrates of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. In fact, you will find many substrates that UV inks will not likely adhere to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can spray an adhesion agent on the substrate with the printer nozzles while to printers, you need to hand apply it. Either way, there exists no be sure that the ink will bond until it can be tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the biggest problem inside the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each differs. This means it can be ultimately essential test both the inks as well as the printer to make certain they will work on the substrates you would like to print prior to making any kind of buying decision or promises to customers.
Along with having to master about adhesion with UV inks, it’s also essential that a potential buyer read about the various properties in the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but a majority of try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that will or may well not work for you. At one time, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and thus I printed employment 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 definitely not doubt their word, it might make me cautious—once burned and all sorts of that.
One of the most popular top features of UV printers recently continues to be the introduction of cylindrical devices for printing such things as water bottles. I believe that cylindrical devices are offered as a possible 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 will 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 generally UV inks, there is a different story with plastic bottles that might be squeezed. These require a flexible ink, so some from the printer manufacturers now produce an ink that stretches up to 200 percent.
The flexible ink option opens up other applications, like printing banners. Magnetic signs are another possibility and several manufacturers have built their printers so you can find no paramagnetic (steel) parts that would interfere with printing a magnetic material.
With the multitude of inks available, a major decision you should make is determing the best ink for the applications. Inks can’t simply be changed so once an ink is selected you might be pretty much stuck with it for the duration. Ink changes are possible in the event you thoroughly clean the printer, but this can be time-consuming which is not suitable 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 are powered by). Some companies manufacture their unique print heads and rails, although others use assemblies off their inkjet manufacturers, such as Ricoh and Epson. Depending on the print head, the printer could be capable of varying the size with the ink dot from as few as a couple of picoliters to just as much as 20 picoliters. By varying the dot size, the printers are able to better manipulate ink density, which ends up in sharper images and colors that smoothly differ from one shade to a different. Variable-dot printing is controlled by firmware from within the printer and its particular software.
All UV printers come by incorporating kind of RIP (Raster Image Processor) software to operate a vehicle and control these firmware options. Usually, the RIP software is developed by the manufacturer to get a specific printer and possesses various functions, such as translating images from the computer into raster devspky91 for that printer and enhancing color consistency. Although you may not be able to talk and understand RIPs in almost any great detail, you will see the results within the printed image, for example vivid reds, white and the ability to smoothly transition in one color to an alternative. When you happen to be considering investing in a printer, it’s very important to look closely, compare results and get questions if you see something that doesn’t look right. If it doesn’t look right with the demo, it won’t look right when you get it home!
So where will be the money in UV printers? What kinds of products produce enough resume make them definitely worth the $20,000 to $80,000 or higher investment that come with these devices? It couldn’t possibly be the power to make one-up products as may be the case with sublimation. Clearly, UV is for that bulk production shop. Although 1,000 water bottles could possibly be personalized as is also printed, the true contribution with the t-shirt printer is printing a lot of products with the exact same imprint—what we’re going to call production.