It seems that folks from the personalization business are usually looking for the “next BIG thing” within our industry. Years ago, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation created a huge influence on the marketplace. So what’s next? What magical innovation will come along that, once more, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Could it be UV printers? Facts are, it simply may be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the industry, then lasers did the exact same thing, then some major technological advancements in sublimation came along cementing this method as one of the “next BIG things.” On the way, a number of other likely candidates cropped up, nevertheless they never quite managed to make it towards the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty excited about the AcryliPrint process of inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It is actually still a great process but it never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there was clearly the system that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, a fairly nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte printer. I am just still holding out with this one to take off, but to date, just one or two passionate souls are adhering to me.
UV printing, however, seems to be taking up a lifetime of its own. For quite some time now, it has all but dominated the industry events with a few really big names taking a marked interest in showing their printers, even though they knew these people were out from the cost 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 all hosting several manufacturers of UV printers that are displaying what is apparently progressively more models.
Steve Gluskin, director of marketing for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we are hearing from trophy and award dealers is that their customers are seeking something totally new. The ability to add color is a perfect fit to augment anything they are now offering. Even the opportunity to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when making an award is absolutely gaining interest. For instance, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, in the same way importantly, profit margin for the dealer. With the help of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves from the competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, like in ultraviolet light. UV light is definitely an invisible (for the eye) kind of light seen in many light sources, like the sun. UV light has some useful characteristics, particularly the ability to cure many photosensitive materials. With regards to UV printing, a UV light source is used for stopping (harden and solidify) the inks laid down from the printer.
UV inkjet printing differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. As an alternative to having solvents within the ink that evaporate in the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are subjected to UV lights that are that are part of the printer which quickly cure the ink to turn it coming from a liquid to your solid. This technologies have several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace health problems, the capability to print on a wide variety of substrates, high print speeds and an array of printing applications which range from outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so pumped up about this developing technology? The reality is, a year or so ago, few individuals within our industry were very excited about this in any way. With price tags within the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t a lot of people who could think about a UV printer as being an option to start with. But as time has gone by, the prices have dropped and much more competition has arrived to the market, making both a lot wider assortment of printers and print possibilities as well as price points-even to the stage that $20,000 may now buy a great deal of printer.
Today, the problem isn’t a great deal price as much as it really is confusion and misinformation regarding what a UV printer can and cannot do, and how much market there is to assist one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my uv printer. The price is nearly negligible along with the markup can be substantial, but exactly how many plaques are suitable for this technology? Remember, sublimation could also be used to produce full-color plaques. The same is true having a hundred other products including everything from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, much like most personalization processes, you will find things which would be best completed with a UV printer and stuff that are the best done 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 perform a few.
I needed work recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I have no idea the way i may have done this with almost every other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a good white image to generate an opaque mask on the substrate after which print the full-color logo in addition to it. That’s the kind of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers provide an attachment for printing cylindrical items such as water bottles. The RotaPrint attachment is available from Roland DGA Corp.
Printing on clear or dark backgrounds can be quite a challenge for many processes together with some, including sublimation, it’s almost impossible. UV printing can also be more forgiving than other methods with regards to the kind of substrates that it works together. Sublimation, as an example, nearly always demands a special polyester-coated substrate to function at all. UV printing, on the flip side, could be used to print on numerous substrates of all colors, textures, sizes and shapes. But, the same as other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. The truth is, 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 about the substrate with the printer nozzles while with many other printers, you need to hand use it. Either way, there is no guarantee the ink will bond until it is tested.
Adhesion then, i think, becomes the greatest problem in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their very own inks and adhesion additives, with each is unique. This means it really is ultimately important that you test the two inks as well as the printer to make sure they are going to work on the substrates you want to print before you make any sort of decision or offers to customers.
In addition to having to discover adhesion with t-shirt printer, additionally it is crucial that a potential buyer find out about the various properties in 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 be right for you. At some point, I presumed that this ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and consequently I printed a job 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 not necessarily doubt their word, it might make me cautious-once burned and all of that.