It appears that individuals within the personalization business will always be seeking the “next BIG thing” inside our industry. Yrs ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation created a huge effect on the business. So what’s next? What magical innovation will come along that, yet again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Is it UV printers? Truth is, it simply could possibly be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did exactly the same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation emerged cementing this process among the “next BIG things.” On the way, other likely candidates cropped up, however they never quite made it towards the “next BIG” level. I recall getting pretty enthusiastic about the AcryliPrint procedure of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It really is still a great process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there is the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there was clearly the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using coffee printer. I am still holding out just for this someone to explode, but to date, only some passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appears to be taking on a life of its unique. For many years now, it offers all but dominated the trade shows with some really big names having a marked curiosity about showing their printers, though they knew these were from the range of prices for 95 percent of those walking the surface. 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 happen to be displaying what appear to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of advertising for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is the fact their customers are searching for new things. The cabability to add color is a perfect fit to augment what they are presently offering. Even the capability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is absolutely 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 adding UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves using their competition.”
So what is actually a UV printer? Well, let’s start out with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is an invisible (for the eye) kind of light located in many light sources, such as the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, specifically the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. In the case of UV printing, a UV source of light can be used to cure (harden and solidify) the inks laid down from the printer.
UV inkjet printing is different from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents inside the ink that evaporate in the air and absorb into the substrate, UV inks are open to UV lights which can be included in the printer which quickly cure the ink to change it from the liquid to some solid. This technologies have several advantages, including eliminating environmental and workplace health problems, the capability to print on numerous types of substrates, high print speeds and a wide range of printing applications starting from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So just why should we be so excited about this developing technology? The fact is, a couple of years ago, very few people in your industry were very interested in this by any means. With costs from the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many individuals who could seriously think about a UV printer being an option in the first place. But as time has passed, prices have dropped plus more competition has come in the market, making both a significantly wider selection of printers and print available options along with price points-even to the stage that $20,000 are able to buy a great deal of printer.
Today, the issue isn’t a whole lot price around it really is confusion and misinformation in regards to what a UV printer can and cannot do, and just how much market there exists to assist one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my small uv printer. The cost is practically negligible along with the markup can be substantial, but just how many plaques are right for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to create full-color plaques. The same is true using a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. Simply speaking, just like most personalization processes, you will find things which work best done with a UV printer and things that are the best carried out with other methods. UV printing isn’t an alternative for other processes, but an alternative choice to do most jobs and the only way to execute a few.
I needed employment recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea how I could possibly have carried this out with any other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a solid white image to make an opaque mask on the substrate after which print the entire-color logo in addition to it. That’s the level of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items such as water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment can be obtained from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for many processes and with some, for example sublimation, it’s just about impossible. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods in terms of the kind of substrates that it works together. Sublimation, as an example, nearly always takes a special polyester-coated substrate to be effective at all. UV printing, however, can be used to print on numerous types of substrates of most colors, textures, shapes and sizes. But, exactly like other processes, it doesn’t work on everything. The truth is, there are many 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 from the printer nozzles while with many other printers, you have to hand put it to use. Either way, there is absolutely no guarantee the ink will bond until it really is tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the most significant problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and every is unique. This simply means it can be ultimately crucial that you test the inks along with the printer to be certain they will likely work towards the substrates you wish to print before you make just about any decision or promises to customers.
As well as having to discover adhesion with textile printer, also, it is crucial that a possible buyer read about the various properties of the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but the majority try to provide a “one size fits all” recipe that might or might not work for you. At some point, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and so I printed a task for exterior use. Unfortunately, I used to be wrong and 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 might make me cautious-once burned and all of that.