It would appear that people within the personalization business will almost always be trying to find the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. In the past, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation created a huge effect on the business. So what’s next? What magical innovation can come along that, yet again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? Truth is, it simply could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the marketplace, then lasers did the same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this procedure as one of the “next BIG things.” As you go along, a number of other likely candidates cropped up, nonetheless they never quite made it on the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint technique of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is actually still an excellent process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there is the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, quite a nice product but it never really took off. Finally, there is the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am still holding out just for this someone to explode, but to date, just a few passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking on a lifetime of its very own. For many years now, it offers all but dominated the industry events with a bit of really big names going for a marked desire for showing their printers, whilst they knew they were out of the budget range for 95 percent of the people walking the 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 which are displaying what appears to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of promoting for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we are hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their customers are searching for something new. The cabability to add color is a perfect fit to enhance anything they are currently offering. Even the ability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when producing an award is really gaining interest. For instance, a laser engraved as well as a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, equally as importantly, profit margin for your dealer. With the help of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from their competition.”
So what is really a UV printer? Well, let’s start with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (to the eye) method of light located in many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, particularly the capability to cure many photosensitive materials. When it comes to UV printing, a UV source of light 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 in the ink that evaporate in the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are exposed to UV lights that happen to be built in the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it from the liquid to some solid. This technologies have several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace health concerns, the capability to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and an array of printing applications ranging from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? The fact is, a year or so ago, few individuals in your industry were very enthusiastic about this at all. With price tags from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could consider a UV printer for an option in the first place. But as time has gone by, prices have dropped and more competition comes into the market, making both a much wider number of printers and print available options in addition to price points-even to the stage that $20,000 are able to buy a lot of printer.
Today, the situation isn’t a whole lot price just as much as it can be confusion and misinformation regarding what a UV printer can and cannot do, and just how much market there exists to support one.
For example, I occasionally print a plaque using my a4 uv printer. The fee is almost negligible and also the markup may be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are suitable for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true with a hundred other products including from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, you will find stuff that are best finished with a UV printer and things which are the best completed with other methods. UV printing isn’t another one for other processes, but a substitute for do most jobs and the best way to perform a few.
I had a task recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea how I could have carried this out with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I could possibly print an excellent white image to produce an opaque mask in the substrate and then print the total-color logo on the top of it. That’s the kind of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items for example water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is available from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for the majority of processes along with some, including sublimation, it’s extremely difficult. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods with regards to the type of substrates which it works with. Sublimation, for example, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to work by any means. UV printing, however, could be used to print on numerous types of substrates of most colors, textures, sizes and shapes. But, exactly like other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. In reality, there are lots of substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can in fact spray an adhesion agent about the substrate from the printer nozzles while along with other printers, you need to hand put it on. In any event, there is absolutely no ensure that the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, in my opinion, becomes the largest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their particular inks and adhesion additives, and each and every is distinct. This implies it is actually ultimately vital that you test the inks as well as the printer to ensure they will focus on the substrates you want to print before you make any type of buying decision or promises to customers.
In addition to having to discover adhesion with textile printer, additionally it is essential that a potential buyer discover the various properties in the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks that need considering but a majority of try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that might or might not do the job. At once, I presumed that an ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and thus I printed a task for exterior use. Unfortunately, I used to be 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 would personally definitely not doubt their word, it will make me cautious-once burned and that.