It seems that folks within the personalization business will always be looking for the “next BIG thing” in our industry. In the past, lasers were the “next BIG thing,” then inkjet sublimation crafted a huge influence on the market. So what’s next? What magical innovation may come along that, again, will revolutionize the personalization industry? Can it be UV printers? The fact is, it really could be, and here’s why.
A long time ago, computerized rotary engraving machines revolutionized the marketplace, then lasers did the same, and then some major technological advancements in sublimation emerged cementing this process among the “next BIG things.” On the way, a few other likely candidates cropped up, however they never quite managed to make it to the “next BIG” level. I remember getting pretty interested in the AcryliPrint procedure for inexpensively printing full-color images on acrylic. It really is still an incredible process but it really never quite caught on for in-house production. Then there seemed to be the machine that printed inkjet images on glass. Again, quite a nice product however it never really took off. Finally, there seemed to be the Enduring Images system of printing on ceramic using latte art printer. I am just still holding out just for this anyone to remove, but up to now, only a few passionate souls are sticking with me.
UV printing, however, appear to be undertaking a life of their own. For quite a while now, they have all but dominated the trade events with some really big names getting a marked interest in showing their printers, while they knew these were from the budget range for 95 percent of individuals walking a floor. I see these printers exhibited at big shows and small: Sign shows, personalization shows, awards shows and print shows are hosting several manufacturers of UV printers that are displaying what appears to be an increasing number of models.
Steve Gluskin, director of marketing for Rowmark’s GoVivid printers, says, “The message we have been hearing from trophy and award dealers is the fact their customers are seeking something totally new. The cabability to add color is a perfect fit to enhance whatever they are offering. Even the cabability to offer ‘multi-media’ or multiple processes when designing an award is very gaining interest. For instance, a laser engraved and a UV-LED printed award adds dimension and color, and, just like importantly, profit margin to the dealer. With the addition of UV-LED printing, the dealer will differentiate themselves using their competition.”
So what exactly can be a UV printer? Well, let’s get started with the UV part, as with ultraviolet light. UV light is surely an invisible (on the eye) method of light located in many light sources, including 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 utilized to stop (harden and solidify) the inks laid down through the printer.
UV inkjet printing differs from conventional solvent inkjet printing. Instead of having solvents from the ink that evaporate to the air and absorb in the substrate, UV inks are in contact with UV lights which are built into the printer which quickly cure the ink to transform it coming from a liquid to some solid. This technologies have several positive aspects, including eliminating environmental and workplace medical issues, the ability to print on numerous substrates, high print speeds and a variety of printing applications including outdoor signage to golf balls.
So why should we be so excited about this developing technology? The reality is, a year or two ago, very few people in our industry were very enthusiastic about this by any means. With prices in the $20,000-$80,000 range, there weren’t many people who could think about a UV printer for an option in the first place. But as time has gone by, prices have dropped and a lot more competition comes in to the market, making both a much wider assortment of printers and print possibilities along with price points-even to the point that $20,000 may now buy a lot of printer.
Today, the trouble isn’t a whole lot price up to it is actually confusion and misinformation regarding what a UV printer can and cannot do, and the way much market there is certainly to aid one.
As an illustration, I occasionally print a plaque using my small uv printer. The price is practically negligible as well as the markup can be substantial, but how many plaques are right for this technology? Remember, sublimation may also be used to make full-color plaques. This is also true using a hundred other products including from metal plates to plastic toys. In short, as with most personalization processes, you will find things which are best completed with a UV printer and stuff that work best finished with other methods. UV printing isn’t a replacement for other processes, but an alternative to do most jobs and the only method to execute a few.
I needed a job recently that involved printing full-color company logos on clear acrylic. I do not know the way i may have carried this out with some other process. UV printing was perfect because I could print a great white image to create an opaque mask around the substrate and then print the complete-color logo along with it. That’s the level of job UV printers are really good at.
Many manufacturers offer 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, including sublimation, it’s nearly impossible. UV printing is also more forgiving than other methods with regards to the type of substrates it works together with. Sublimation, as an example, nearly always requires a special polyester-coated substrate to operate in any way. UV printing, on the flip side, can be used to print on a wide variety of substrates of colors, textures, shapes and forms. But, just like other processes, it doesn’t focus on everything. The truth is, there are numerous substrates that UV inks will 05dexqpky stick to without first applying a bonding or adhesion agent. Some printers can certainly spray an adhesion agent on the substrate with the printer nozzles while with some other printers, you have to hand apply it. In any case, there is not any guarantee the ink will bond until it is actually tested.
Adhesion then, for me, becomes the largest symptom in the UV world since every printer manufacturer offers their own personal inks and adhesion additives, and each and every is different. What this means is it is ultimately essential that you test the inks along with the printer to ensure they may work on the substrates you need to print before making any type of decision or offers to customers.
As well as having to learn about adhesion with garment printer, additionally it is important that a possible buyer discover the various properties from the inks. Some companies offer multiple inks to be considered but the majority try to offer a “one size fits all” recipe that might or might not be right for you. At the same time, I presumed that the ink cured with UV light would then be UV safe and therefore I printed work for exterior use. Unfortunately, I was 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 would definitely not doubt their word, it would cause me to cautious-once burned and all that.