Apparently those of us from the personalization business are usually searching for the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation made a huge effect on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation may come along that, yet again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? The fact is, it just might be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the business, then lasers did the same thing, after which some major technological advancements in sublimation emerged cementing this process as among the “next BIG things.” On the way, other likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite caused it to be towards the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty enthusiastic about the AcryliPrint process of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It can be still a fantastic process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, quite a nice product nevertheless it never really took off. Finally, there was the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am still holding out just for this a person to pull off, but up to now, only a few passionate souls are adhering to me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking up a lifetime of its very own. For quite a while now, it offers all but dominated the trade events with many really big names having a marked desire for showing their printers, while they knew these people were out from the price range for 95 percent of the people walking the surface. 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 can be displaying what appear to be progressively more models.
Steve Gluskin, director of promoting for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their potential customers are trying to find a new challenge. The cabability to add color is an ideal fit to augment whatever they are presently offering. Even the cabability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when making an award is really gaining interest. For example, a laser engraved as well as a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin to the dealer. By adding UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from the competition.”
So what exactly is really a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (for the eye) kind of light seen in many light sources, such as the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the matter of UV printing, a UV light source is used to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down with the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents within the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb to the substrate, UV inks are in contact with UV lights which are included in the printer which quickly cure the ink to make it from the liquid into a solid. This technology has several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace health issues, the ability to print on a multitude of substrates, high print speeds and a variety of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
Why should we be so excited about this developing technology? Truth is, a year or two ago, very few people inside our industry were very pumped up about this at all. With prices from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t lots of people who could think about a UV printer as being an option to begin with. But as time has gone by, prices have dropped and more competition has arrived to the market, making both a significantly wider assortment of printers and print available options along with price points-even to the stage that $20,000 may now buy a great deal of printer.
Today, the problem isn’t a whole lot price just as much as it is actually confusion and misinformation as to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there may be to aid one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The fee is almost negligible and also the markup might be substantial, but just how many plaques are right for this technology? Remember, sublimation can also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same is true using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, similar to most personalization processes, you can find things which work best completed with a UV printer and things that are the best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the only method to conduct a few.
I needed a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I do not know the way i may have carried this out with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I really could print an excellent white image to generate an opaque mask on the substrate and then print the full-color logo on top of it. That’s the sort of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers present an attachment for printing cylindrical items including water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is available from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for most processes together with some, such as sublimation, it’s just about impossible. UV printing is likewise more forgiving than other methods in terms of the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, for instance, nearly always needs a special polyester-coated substrate to work whatsoever. UV printing, however, enables you to print on a wide variety of substrates of most colors, textures, shapes and forms. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t work with everything. Actually, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky abide by without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can in fact spray an adhesion agent about the substrate with the printer nozzles while with some other printers, you should hand apply it. In any case, there is no guarantee the ink will bond until it is actually tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the biggest symptom in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and each differs. This simply means it really is ultimately crucial that you test both the inks along with the printer to be certain they will work towards the substrates you wish to print before making any type of buying decision or promises to customers.
Along with having to learn about adhesion with garment printer, it is additionally important that a possible buyer learn about the various properties of your inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but the majority try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that may or may not be right for you. At one time, I presumed that an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and therefore I printed a task for exterior use. Unfortunately, I was wrong along with the signs faded into nothingness within months. Lesson learned? Well, some printer manufacturers claim their inks are UV safe and although I might most certainly not doubt their word, it might cause me to cautious-once burned and all of that.