It seems that folks in the personalization business will almost always be looking for the “next BIG thing” within our industry. Yrs ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge effect on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation should come along that, yet again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? The fact is, it just could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did exactly the same thing, after which some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this procedure as the “next BIG things.” As you go along, several other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite made it towards the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty pumped up about the AcryliPrint procedure of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It can be still an excellent process but it really never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there seemed to be the device that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a pretty nice product but it really never really took off. Finally, there was clearly the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am still holding out for this a person to pull off, but thus far, just a few passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking on a life of its unique. For several years now, it provides all but dominated the trade shows with some really big names taking a marked desire for showing their printers, even though they knew they were out of your budget range for 95 percent of those walking a floor. 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 that are displaying what appears to be progressively more models.
Steve Gluskin, director of advertising for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their customers are seeking something totally new. The ability to add color is a great fit to augment the things they are currently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when making an award is actually gaining interest. As an example, a laser engraved plus a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just as importantly, profit margin to the dealer. By having UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, as in ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (on the eye) kind of light present in many light sources, including the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, especially the cabability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the matter of UV printing, a UV light source is commonly used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down by the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents in the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb to the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights which are built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to transform it from your liquid to a solid. This technology has several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace health concerns, the cabability to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and a wide array of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? Facts are, a year or so ago, very few people in your industry were very pumped up about this in any way. With costs from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t lots of people who could consider a UV printer as an option to start with. But as time has gone by, the prices have dropped and more competition has arrived in to the market, making both a significantly wider number of printers and print available choices in addition to price points-even to the level that $20,000 are now able to buy a lot of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a whole lot price as much as it is confusion and misinformation in regards to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and just how much market there may be to support one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The fee is almost negligible and also the markup can be substantial, but just how many plaques are right for this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same holds true with a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. Simply speaking, just like most personalization processes, you will find stuff that work best carried out with a UV printer and things that would be best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t a substitute for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the best way to perform a few.
I needed a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I do not know the way i could possibly have done this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I really could print a solid white image to generate an opaque mask around the substrate after which print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the type of job UV printers work great at.
Many manufacturers offer an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is offered from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds is definitely a challenge for almost all processes and with some, like sublimation, it’s extremely difficult. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods in terms of the type of substrates that this works with. Sublimation, by way of example, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective by any means. UV printing, on the other hand, enables you to print on numerous substrates of all colors, textures, shapes and forms. But, just like other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. Actually, there are lots of substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can certainly spray an adhesion agent in the substrate from the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you should hand apply it. Either way, there is absolutely no guarantee the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, i think, becomes the biggest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each is different. This implies it is ultimately essential that you test the inks along with the printer to ensure they are going to work with the substrates you would like to print prior to making just about any decision or offers to customers.
Along with having to learn about adhesion with t-shirt printer, it is also crucial that a prospective buyer find out about the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but a majority of try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not do the job. At the same time, I presumed that an 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 might definitely not doubt their word, it will make me cautious-once burned and all of that.