It appears that those of us in the personalization business will always be trying to find the “next BIG thing” within our industry. In the past, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation created a huge affect on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation will come along that, again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? Facts are, it really could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the marketplace, then lasers did the same, and then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this process as among the “next BIG things.” In the process, several other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite managed to get to the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty pumped up about the AcryliPrint process of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It really is still a fantastic process however it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there is the device that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, quite a nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there was the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am just still holding out for this particular one to remove, but so far, only some passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appear to be undertaking a life of their own. For quite a while now, it provides all but dominated the industry events with many really big names taking a marked curiosity about showing their printers, while they knew they were out of the range of prices for 95 percent of people walking the ground. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are common hosting several manufacturers of UV printers which are displaying what is apparently an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of advertising for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we are hearing from trophy and award dealers is the fact their clientele are seeking something new. The capability to add color is a perfect fit to augment whatever they are presently offering. Even the opportunity to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is very gaining interest. By way of example, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin for that dealer. By having UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves off their competition.”
So what is a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, like ultraviolet light. UV light is definitely an invisible (towards the eye) method of light found in many light sources, for example the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the opportunity to cure many photosensitive materials. With regards to UV printing, a UV source of light is commonly used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down through the printer.
UV inkjet printing differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Rather than having solvents inside the ink that evaporate in to the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights that happen to be built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from your liquid to some solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace health issues, the capability to print on numerous types of substrates, high print speeds and an array of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So just why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? The reality is, a couple of years ago, not many people in your industry were very excited about this at all. With price tags from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t a lot of people who could consider a UV printer being an option from the beginning. But as time has gone by, the prices have dropped and more competition came into the market, making both a much wider variety of printers and print options available and also price points-even to the level that $20,000 are now able to buy a lot of printer.
Today, the situation isn’t a great deal price as much as it is confusion and misinformation regarding what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there is certainly to assist one.
As an example, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The price is practically negligible and also the markup could be substantial, so how many plaques are right for this technology? Remember, sublimation can also be used to generate full-color plaques. The same is true with a hundred other products including anything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, just like most personalization processes, you will find stuff that would be best completed with a UV printer and stuff that are best done with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the best way to do a few.
I needed work recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea how I might have performed this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print an excellent white image to generate an opaque mask around the substrate then print the full-color logo along with it. That’s the kind 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 most processes together with some, including sublimation, it’s just about impossible. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods in relation to the sort of substrates that this works with. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective at all. UV printing, on the other hand, can be used to print on a multitude of substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, much like other processes, it doesn’t work with everything. In reality, there are several substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers may actually spray an adhesion agent in the substrate from the printer nozzles while with other printers, you have to hand put it on. In any event, there is not any ensure the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the most significant symptom in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own inks and adhesion additives, and each and every is unique. What this means is it can be ultimately crucial that you test both the inks along with the printer to be certain they are going to focus on the substrates you wish to print before you make any sort of decision or promises to customers.
In addition to having to discover adhesion with garment printer, it is also important that a possible buyer find out about the various properties in the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but the majority try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not meet your needs. At the same time, I presumed that an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and consequently I printed a task for exterior use. Unfortunately, I used to be wrong as well as the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I would personally definitely not doubt their word, it will cause me to cautious-once burned and all of that.